India national team players will have to submit a 'training consent' form before they join the preparatory camp, that is expected to start next month, for the World Cup qualifiers under coach Igor Stimac, Goal has learnt.
According to the Sports Authority of India's (SAI) new Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) athletes are required to declare that they are voluntarily joining the training session in spite of being aware of the prevalent Coronavirus situation.
The consent form requires the athletes to "acknowledge the risks associated with resuming training at the centre under the present Covid-19 pandemic situation."
The rest of the points in the consent form are:
1. I hereby acknowledge that the risks involved, necessary precautions and protocols for resumption of training have been duly informed to me by _______ (name of National Sports Federation (NSF)) and the centre.
2. I hereby acknowledge the centre cannot guarantee the complete elimination of risks posed by COVID-19 through the implementation of the precautions and protocols identified by the centre.
3. I hereby declare that I am willing to resume training at the centre on my own consent without the influence of any other party and I shall adhere to suggested safety precautions and protocols at the centre.
The NSFs are also required to sign an undertaking, where they are also acknowledging the risks of resuming training in the current scenario, declared that they have studied the SOP in detail and that they will adhere to the protocols of the SOP and government orders.
Premier League players had also provided written confirmation that they agree to their club's new safety measures before they returned to group training in May.
SAI has permitted 11 disciplines to resume outdoor training following relaxations in the lockdown to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. However, football has been kept out of the ambit.
According to the current schedule announced by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC), India are set to host Qatar on October 8 before facing Bangladesh away from home on November 12. Their last group stage fixture against Afghanistan is set to be played on November 17 at home.
But these dates were subject to how the Coronavirus situation unfolded across Asia and the travel regulations, as applicable to each country. However, given the increase in the number of cases in many countries, AFC might end up tweaking the dates and changing the venues.
They might consider holding the remaining matches at centralised venues in each of the groups. It could well see matches in each group being played at one venue in one of the countries in that group.
India are currently placed fourth in Group E with three points from five matches. Qatar top the table with 13 points while Oman are hot on their heels with 12. India are virtually out of contention for the top two spots but a third-place finish is well within the reach of the Blue Tigers. That will book them a direct berth in the third round for the 2023 Asian Cup Qualifiers.
India lost narrowly to Oman at home before pulling holding Asian champions Qatar to a goalless draw. The inspiring result was followed by two more draws and a loss against Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Oman respectively.