Asian World Cup qualifiers postponed over coronavirus

Soccer
Soccer

Asia's football World Cup qualifiers this month and in June have been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, but games can still go ahead if both sides agree and safety standards are met, officials said Monday.

Football is one of the sports worst affected by the deadly epidemic and especially in Asia, where the AFC Champions League and domestic competitions in China, Japan and South Korea are all on hold.

Qualifiers set for 23 and 31 March, and 1 and 9 June, are "postponed to later dates", world body FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation said, after consultations with Asia's national football associations.

But games can still be played on those dates "provided that the safety of all individuals involved meets the required standards and that the member associations due to play each other mutually agree".

The announcement suggests that at least some games will go ahead during the upcoming international windows, when dozens of fixtures were planned across the Middle East and Asia.

The women's Olympic qualifying playoff between China and South Korea has been moved to 1 and 9 June, while the AFC Futsal Championship in Turkmenistan has been postponed to August, the statement added.

"FIFA and the AFC will continue to assess the situation in relation to COVID-19 and will decide whether further changes to the schedule of Asian FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers are required," it said.

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