Pandemic disrupting FIFA’s World Cup, Membership World Cup program

Pandemic disrupting FIFA's World Cup, Club World Cup program

GENEVA (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic has pressured one version of FIFA’s Membership World Cup to be postponed, is pushing again one other, and inflicting concern about delays to 2022 World Cup qualifying video games.

FIFA President Gianni Infantino confirmed on Friday an inevitable rescheduling to the normal seven-team match for continental membership champions that was scheduled in Qatar in December.

South America’s champion is not going to be identified till January after the 2020 Copa Libertadores group stage resumed solely this week after a six-month shutdown.

”We’re discussing, we’re monitoring, we’re seeing if it may be hosted in Qatar possibly at first of the yr (in 2021),” Infantino mentioned on Friday of the old-style Membership World Cup.

A revamped, 24-team version was to launch in June 2021 till FIFA put it on maintain. That cleared house after the 2020 European Championship and 2020 Copa America had been postponed for one yr.

South America’s 10-team qualifying group for the 2022 World Cup was unable to begin in March because the pandemic unfold.

A full 18-round program ought to start on Oct. 8 and faces challenges to finish by March 2022 forward of FIFA’s intercontinental playoffs in June 2022.

The video games workload and calls for to journey to South America – the place COVID-19 an infection charges are excessive and testing capability is below strain – are regarding the FIFPro group of participant unions worldwide.

”I’m involved,” Infantino mentioned of the congested World Cup qualifiers which Asia is skipping till subsequent yr. ”That is clearly an actual drawback particularly if the pandemic would not cease or get weaker, or we do not begin taking part in in a standard approach.”

FIFA already added further dates for nationwide crew video games in January 2022 to catch up, and ”if want be, we should discover different home windows,” its president mentioned.

Infantino additionally recommended taking part in qualifiers ”in a single venue as an alternative of dwelling and away” and squeezing three video games as an alternative of two right into a 10-day worldwide interval.

European nationwide groups will play three video games in every of October and November to finish the Euro 2020 playoffs and Nations League teams this yr. Its World Cup qualifying teams begin in March.

The smaller Membership World Cup – six continental champions plus the host nation’s league winner – was being staged for a second yr by Qatar to organize for World Cup internet hosting.

”We actually wish to see if we are able to preserve it,” Infantino mentioned.

Solely Bayern Munich has certified internationally after profitable UEFA’s Champions League final month.

The Asian Champions League additionally resumed this week and goals for a ultimate within the second half of December.

Even when all FIFA competitors video games might be performed as scheduled, the FIFPro union desires to let gamers decide out of their obligation to report for nationwide crew obligation.

FIFA made concessions forward of Europe’s return to nationwide crew motion in September if gamers had been affected by journey limits or obligatory quarantine intervals.

”There are good explanation why virtually all governments around the globe have strict journey restrictions which suggests it (South America) remains to be an unsafe atmosphere,” Jonas Baer-Hofmann, FIFPro common secretary, mentioned in an interview on Friday.

”The idea that (gamers) may be sanctioned for breaking a rule . to guard the well being of themselves and their households cannot be severe,” he mentioned.

Infantino mentioned FIFA plans to publish a well being protocol subsequent week for video games in South America.

”Well being would be the high, high, high precedence,” he mentioned. ”We’ll by no means put in danger the well being of anybody.”

AP World Soccer Author Rob Harris in London contributed to this report

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