Coronavirus: AFC halts West Asian Champions League and pushes back final rounds

March 9 – The AFC Champions League has been put on temporary hold in West Asia while officials work out ways to get the remaining group matches played as a result of the coronavirus.

With the competition’s East Asian zone already severely disrupted by COVID-19, delegates from West Asia suspended group play to evaluate a “series of proposals” to complete the pool stage.

“All matches in AFC Champions League match day three were postponed in the West zone,” the Asian Football Confederation said after emergency talks in Doha and Dubai. “The AFC has now asked for the cooperation of the member associations in producing a plan by which the remaining matches can be played before the round of 16.”

Iran, badly hit by the virus, has four teams in Asia’s premier club competition, while Saudi Arabia, UAE, Iraq, Uzbekistan and Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts, are also involved.

The tournament’s East zone, traditionally kept separate from the West until the final, last week moved back the start of its knock-out rounds to August. China, South Korea and Japan, whose domestic leagues are on hold over the virus, all have teams in the competition.

The West zone’s quarter-finals, meanwhile, will be moved to September to accommodate the extended group phase, and the two-legged semi-finals will be on October 14, 15, 28 and 29. The final remains on November 22 and 28.

“As with the East Zone, the MAs (member associations) provided some proposals which will now be considered by the AFC and the various stakeholders, including commercial partners,” the AFC statement said.

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