How Does the Bio-Bubble for the Indian Super League Function?

The games for the ISL will be played at Fatorda Stadium, GMC Bambolim and the Tilak Maidan.

3 min read

The first big-ticket sports event in India during the times of COVID-19 gets underway on 20 November and much on the lines of the IPL, the Indian Super League, too, has a bio-bubble, strict testing rules and 3 venues.

But this ‘Indian’ league will be played in India and despite the pandemic, it’s scaling up this year with 115 matches and a new team in East Bengal added to the roster. Another iconic Kolkata club Mohun Bagan merged with three-time champions ATK in preseason.


The tournament stretches for four months and here’s everything you need to know about what the organisers have planned for the tournament that is being staged across three grounds in Goa. The games for the ISL will be played at Fatorda Stadium, GMC Bambolim and the Tilak Maidan.

The ISL was one of the tournaments that was affected by the coronavirus pandemic when it broke out earlier in the year and they had to play the final between ATK and Chennaiyin behind closed doors in Goa on 14 March. ATK went on to win the game 3-1 and added a third title to their cabinet.


Here’s What You’re Meant to Follow Strictly

Due to the coronavirus protocols, every team is based in a separate hotel and the crew associated with each stadium is also in a separate hotel.

All teams must provide 2 negative tests before they can enter the bubble, where they will be tested again and irrespective of the results, self-quarantine is mandatory.

Teams arrived by road and air and had different rules for quarantining. Those that took a road trip had to quarantine for 7 days while the others stayed indoors for 14.

During the stay in the bubble, everyone will be tested every 3 days.


What Happens if There is a Breach?

If there is a breach, or a guest is brought in, then the person involved has to isolate. They would then need to repeat the whole initial process - test twice, continue to stay in isolation for four-five days, and then test again. If all three tests come negative, only then are they allowed back in.


What Happens If You Test Positive?

The said person will have to isolate for 14 days on a separate floor and will be allowed back in only after they have tested negative twice. A second test is to be conducted within 48 hours of the first negative and only if both return negative is the person allowed back into the bio-bubble.

The team will also go through a series of tests to ensure there has been no second positive case.

There will be no access for the media as well during this season’s ISL which also means the access zones for everyone involved is also limited. For starters, the team members can only move between the hotel, training ground and the stadium.



Access has been divided into four tiers for everyone involved in the ISL this season in Goa.

Tier 1 - Players, first-team staff and their families

Tier 2 - The second tier will be made up of everyone who will come in contact and co-ordinate with members in the top tier.

Everyone in the top two tiers are tested every three days

Tier 3 - The staff of the clubs and everyone else who requires access to field of play to visit field of play, competition area, delegate area and the media tribune. People in this tier will be tested every fifth day.

Tier 4 - No access to field of play or competition. They will be working on non-match days.


What’s New?

Mohun Bagan and ATK merged to become ATKMB and did not have to wait too long before Mohun Bagan’s arch-rivals East Bengal joined the mix too!

Unlike previous years, the overseas players count has also been reduced – all teams have to adhere to the 3+1 (Asian recruit) rule followed by Asian Football Confederation. Teams can have three recruits from anywhere in the world but the fourth has to be an Asian player.

This season, the ISL is allowing teams to make five substitutions instead of three. Teams can use their five substitutes over a maximum of three intervals, and this doesn't include the changes at half-time.

So, to ensure full safety, the ISL has taken the best practices from the Premier League and IPL among other leagues and looks all set for a bigger and a more competitive season than ever before.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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