ISL final, no fans: Coronavirus forces ATK vs Chennayin FC behind closed doors

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The 2019-20 Indian Super League (ISL) final between Chennaiyin FC and ATK will be played behind closed doors due to the ongoing threat of Coronavirus; the Football Sports and Development Limited announced on Thursday. The final which is set to be played at the Jawaharlal Nehru stadium in Goa on Saturday March 14, will witness zero attendance due to the preventive measures being enforced by the Indian government to thwart a mass outbreak of Covid-19.

On Thursday a directive from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports asked the top sporting bodies of the country – including the Indian Olympic Association (IOC), the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), the All India Football Federation (AIFF) and the other recognised sport associations, to not conduct any sporting event with public gathering.

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“You are advised to adhere to the advisories issued by the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare and ensure that no public gathering takes place in any sporting event,”

“However, in the event, the sporting event cannot be avoided, the same could be done without allowing the gathering of people, including spectators” the directive declared.  

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While the ISL organisers released a statement saying, “Upcoming Hero Indian Super League 2019-20 Final on Saturday March 14, 2020, between ATK FC and Chennaiyin FC, will now be played behind closed doors at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium Fatorda, Goa.”

The finalists ATK and Chennaiyin FC are set to face off for their third title, having beaten Bengaluru FC and FC Goa respectively to reach the penultimate game of the tournament.

Kolkata’s ATK reached the final after beating defending champions Bengaluru FC 3-2 on aggregate in the semis and Chennaiyin FC, who won their last title back in 2018, defeated FC Goa 6-5 on aggregate over two legs.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 has already wreaked havoc throughout different sporting events across the globe. Italy suspended the Serie A till April while several UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League matches are scheduled to be played behind closed doors this week.

The virus which originated in China last December, has spread all over the world affecting more than 100 countries till date. Apart from China the countries most affected by the illness are Italy, Iran and South Korea.

The Indian government in the light of the ongoing developments in the spread of Covid-19 has suspended all existing visas issued to foreign nationals till April 15, 2020, meaning no overseas athletes cannot enter India anymore.

According to the government, India has seen 74 confirmed cases of Covid-19 as the preventive measures are most likely to be enforced to ensure there is no mass outbreak of the virus.

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