Plea in HC for suspending Sr Div Boys Football League on rising COVID-19 cases

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New Delhi, Apr 12 (PTI) A plea urged the Delhi High Court on Monday to issue directions for suspending the Senior Division Boys' Football League, slated to commence from April 15, in view of the rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the country.

The Delhi Soccer Association (DSA) which is conducting the event told the court that the tournament has been postponed to April 18 as it would be holding a meeting on Tuesday on precautionary steps to be taken.

Taking note of the submission, Justice Prathiba M Singh asked DSA to file a status report indicating the outcome of the meeting and listed the matter for hearing on April 16.

The direction came on the petition by Delhi-based Hindustan Football Club, represented by advocate Ashim Shridhar, which has also sought directions to the Centre, AAP government, All India Football Federation (AIFF) and DSA to 'ensure the formulation of a standard operating procedure including creation of bio-bubbles prior to commencement of the tournament'.

A bio bubble is the creation of a protective environment by holding events at a centralised site with strict quarantine and safety protocols in place to prevent interaction of players with the outside world and prevent spread of COVID-19 among them.

The plea, filed through advocates Niyati Patwardhan and Shashi Pratap Singh, has claimed that DSA was planning to hold the tournament without following any of the norms or standard operating procedures laid down by the Centre and Delhi government for holding such events during the ongoing pandemic.

'It is submitted that in the present facts and circumstances and the rising number of coronavirus cases, the Respondent 3 (DSA) has announced the impugned event without due application of mind and without taking appropriate precautions.

'The Respondent 3 has not released any standard operating procedure for ensuring that the players and supporting staff are adequately protected from infection,' the petition has said.

It has also claimed that the tournament was scheduled to commence from April 15 in violation of the AIFF circular of April 2 which specifically stated that due to the spike of the coronavirus cases, no youth leagues ought to be held in states including Delhi.

India hit a new coronavirus infection record with 1,68,912 new cases, the highest single-day rise so far, taking the total tally of cases to 1,35,27,717, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday.

Delhi recorded 10,774 fresh cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, the highest single-day surge in the national capital till date, according to data shared by the Health Department.

As per the Sunday bulletin, 48 new fatalities were recorded, pushing the death toll to 11,283. PTI HMP SA