FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have agreed on Monday to postpone the Asian World Cup qualifying matches in the upcoming month and June due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Following consultation with Asia’s member associations, FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have agreed to postpone the upcoming Asian qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” said FIFA in a statement.
India were slated to host Asian champions Qatar at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on March 26 and now until further confirmation, it remains postponed. In addition, Igor Stimac’s men were scheduled to play two more matches – against Bangladesh in Dhaka on June 4, and then against Afghanistan in Kolkata on June 9.
China’s matches against Maldives at home and Guam away were already moved to Buriram, Thailand and were set to be played in an empty stadium, but more than two dozen other matches were scheduled around the continent on two match days on March 26 and 31.
A further 32 games were scheduled to be played during the second international break on two match days on June 4 and 9.
FIFA added that the matches could still go ahead if the member associations due to play each other mutually agree and safety standards are met, subject to prior approval from both FIFA and the AFC.
It added that upcoming qualifiers for the Olympic Football Tournaments were likely to be played as scheduled, with the exception of the women’s Olympic qualifiers playoff between South Korea and China.
The playoff will now take place during the June 1-10 international window.
(with Reuters inputs)