Coronavirus: FIFA Recommends Postponement Of International Matches

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The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has recommended that all international matches scheduled for March and April be postponed due to the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). The world football’s governing body made this known in a statement on Friday.

FIFA added that the final decision to postpone any match rests with the respective competition organisers or relevant member association in case of friendlies. FIFA rules normally oblige clubs to release players for national team matches, but this rule has been temporarily reversed.

According to the statement, FIFA gave the advice to all national teams to avoid any unnecessary health risks and also situations of potential sporting unfairness. FIFA noted that coronavirus is rapidly evolving across the world and various international travel restrictions have already been imposed by different public authorities.

FIFA also said that clubs would be allowed to refuse to send their players to national squad gatherings in March and April and not ban matches outright in order to curtail the spread of the virus. According to FIFA, if the matches go ahead, it will present potential health risks to players and to the general public.

The world football’s governing body noted that holding the matches under current circumstances would also, most likely, compromise the sporting integrity of such matches as long as certain teams may be deprived of their best squads whilst others may not.

FIFA also said the qualifying matches for the 2020 World Cup in both Asia and South America have already been postponed following consultation between FIFA and the confederations concerned. FIFA added that it is working on rescheduling the postponed games for a later date.

The statement reads: “In light of the current situation concerning the Coronavirus, FIFA has decided that general football rules which normally oblige clubs to release players for national team matches will not apply for the up-coming international windows in March/April.

“The situation is rapidly evolving across the world and various international travel restrictions have already been imposed by different public authorities.

“FIFA understands that to hold the matches under current circumstances might not only present potential health risks to players (and to the general public) but would also, most likely, compromise the sporting integrity of such matches insofar as certain teams may be deprived of their best squads whilst others may not.

“To avoid any unnecessary health risks and also situations of potential sporting unfairness, we, therefore, recommend that all international matches previously scheduled to take place in March and April should now be postponed until such time that they can take place in a safe and secure environment, both for players and for the general public. The final decision on this issue rests with the respective competition organisers or relevant member association in case of friendlies.

“The qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup in both Asia and South America have already been postponed following consultation between FIFA and the confederations concerned.

“In consultation with the confederations and relevant stakeholders, FIFA will be studying the possibilities for re-scheduling any postponed matches and is confident that with goodwill and flexibility from all sides, appropriate solutions will be found to allow the matches to take place in due course and with minimal disruption.

“We are working in close cooperation with relevant national and international public health authorities (most notably the World Health Organisation) and, taking into account the expert advice that we have received on the matter, we consider this measure and recommendation to be the most appropriate and responsible step to take under the current circumstances”

FIFA also noted that it is working with relevant national and international public health authorities such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) to tackle the virus.

FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, made this known in a statement on Thursday after meeting with the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.

Infantino said he met with WHO boss to discuss how football can help the WHO responds to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and what measures should sports governing bodies and administrators take in specific situations.

“FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, met yesterday with the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, to discuss how football can help the WHO respond to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic and what measures should sports governing bodies and administrators take in specific situations.

“Sports governing bodies and decision-makers should always keep in mind that health comes first. All sports bodies must be ready to follow national guidance, based on thorough risk assessments, to stage safe events or take other required Actions that protect the health of fans, players, coaches, and the broader communities.”

“WHO and FIFA, working in conjunction with other leading figures in world football, will launch a joint awareness-raising campaign and engage in various initiatives to ensure all people receive needed advice to protect and promote their health and that of their communities.

“In 2019, WHO and FIFA, football’s world governing body, agreed to a four-year collaboration to promote healthy lifestyles through football globally.”