The Asian Football Confederation did not give any reason for postponing the matches but it is understood that the deadly resurgence of COVID-19 in many Asian countries is behind the decision.
It all started with Bengaluru FC’s play-off match against Eagles FC, scheduled here on May 11, being left in doubt after the host country’s sports minister asked the ISL side to leave citing breach of COVID-19 protocols.
The exact nature of the violation by BFC, which is captained by India skipper Sunil Chhetri, was not specified but sports minister Ahmed Mahloof termed it as ‘unacceptable’. The sentiment was echoed by BFC owner Parth Jindal, who apologised and promised strict action against the errant players and support staff.
“Unacceptable behaviour from Bengaluru FC breaching the strict guidelines from HPA (Health Protection Agency). The club should leave Flag of Maldives immediately as we can’t entertain this act,” Mahloof tweeted from his official handle.
The minister’s tweets came after reports emerged that some players of the side were seen roaming Male’s streets in violation of the quarantine protocol.
Also, two ATK Mohun Bagan players -- Prabir Das and SK Sahil -- tested positive for COVID-19, hours before their group matches in Maldives were postponed by the continental football governing body.
“Participating clubs who have travelled to Maldives will be required to arrange for their return home while adhering to the COVID-19 health and travel protocols put in place by the country,” the AFC said in a statement.