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Asian World Cup qualifiers face postponement over virus: FIFA


Hong Kong (AFP) – FIFA and Asia’s football governing body are considering postponing upcoming World Cup qualifiers over the novel coronavirus, a statement said on Thursday.

A “formal proposal” has been circulated among Asian countries, FIFA said after talks with the Asian Football Confederation, with a decision expected in the coming days.

“For both FIFA and the AFC, the well-being and health of all individuals involved in football matches remains the highest priority, and as such, a formal proposal to postpone upcoming matches in the Asian FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers will now be shared with the relevant member associations,” the FIFA statement said.

“FIFA and the AFC will provide an update on these fixtures in the coming days following consultation with the AFC member associations.”

The women’s Olympic playoff between China and South Korea, both hard-hit by the virus, is also up for discussion, as well as the AFC Futsal Championship in Turkmenistan.

Asia’s next qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup are scheduled for March 26 and 31. The women’s Olympic playoff, already postponed once, is set for April 9 and 14 and the futsal championship is due to start on February 26.

Asian football has been badly disrupted by the COVID-19 epidemic, with the region’s Champions League club competition thrown into chaos and leagues suspended in China, South Korea and Japan.

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