2022 World Cup further behind schedule with games in Asia off

AIPS
2022 World Cup further behind schedule with games in Asia off

FIFA and the AFC said they would work together “to identify new dates for the respective qualifying matches.”

KUALA LUMPUR, August 14, 2020: All Asian qualifying games for the 2022 World Cup scheduled this year were postponed to 2021 on Wednesday, adding to a global fixture backlog for football’s biggest competition caused by the Coronavirus pandemic.
FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation issued a joint statement saying the delay is to protect the health and safety of all participants from COVID-19. The games will be rescheduled in 2021.
Each of 40 nations involved were due to play three or four rounds to complete the current phase of World Cup qualifying in Asia which now fell further behind schedule with no games played in 2020.
FIFA’s global calendar of national-team games now has too few dates to complete the qualifying program as originally planned after the latest round of postponements.
The slots in June 2022 protected for national-team games are fast becoming key to deciding the 32-nation World Cup lineup.
Football governing bodies for Europe and South America already proposed changes to make space for more national-team games.
UEFA is adding a third game into traditional double-header weeks for national teams, ahead of losing dates for World Cup qualifiers in June 2021when the postponed 2020 European Championship is played. However, this solution is more complicated for other continents with greater travel demands, including for Europe-based players.
South America’s CONMEBOL has yet to start its scheduled 18-round World Cup qualifying group and asked FIFA for an extra block of games in January 2022. That will likely be unpopular with European clubs if they are required to release players for additional weeks in what will already be a congested season.
FIFA and the AFC said they would work together “to identify new dates for the respective qualifying matches.”
The four rounds of games postponed Wednesday would have completed the second round of World Cup qualifying in Asia, that also feeds into teams advancing to the 2023 Asian Cup hosted by China.
The eight group winners and the four best runners-up advance to the third stage of qualifying for the finals tournament in Qatar 2022.