All India Football Federation president Praful Patel on Friday said he will request the state governments to administer COVID-19 vaccine on their senior players on priority so that football activity can be resumed the moment the situation normalises in the country.

India is currently witnessing a deadly resurgence of the pandemic that is killing scores of people on a daily basis. India also reported over 3.86 lakh fresh cases of COVID-19 since Thursday.

“I plan to write to the heads of the governments of every state to give priority vaccinations to all the senior players. This will help us resume footballing activities a little earlier than usual, once the situation becomes more stable,” said Patel.

Considering the extraordinary circumstances, AIFF technical director Isac Doru recommended doing away with relegation in I-League for the season that concluded recently.

Drawing examples from 23 countries across the world, including the likes of the Netherlands (Eredivisie), Argentina (Liga Profesional de Futbol), Mexico (Liga MX), Romania (Liga 1), Japan (J-League and J2-League), Doru showed how different countries have stopped relegation in order to help teams amid the unprecedented health crisis.

“This year, because of the difficult circumstances, many teams have not been able to prepare, or practice, or play under normal conditions. As stakeholders, we need our leagues to be strong and support our clubs.

“While I am in full support of sporting merit in view of the unusual circumstances it would make sense to stop relegation for the just-concluded I-League season, taking cue from practices across the world. Participation is equally important in these circumstances,” Doru said.

The president said that the matter will be deliberated by the league committee and recommendations forwarded to the executive committee for a final decision.

During a virtual meeting that was chaired by Patel, all the member state associations and the AIFF executive committee observed a minute’s silence in memory of those who lost their lives after battling the dreaded virus.

“It is a very difficult year for the country and football in general. Almost everything had gone for a toss since last year, due to the pandemic. But we have still been able to complete the Hero Indian Super League and the I-League, though in a much shorter time,” said Patel.

“As custodians of football we need to do the best we can to ensure that football can resume as soon as it is possible, and that players’ careers are not wasted.

“We are at a time when we are seeing challenges that we have never seen in our lifetime. Would request everyone to be careful, vigilant, and under the circumstances, do the best we can.”