Coronavirus: South American World Cup qualifiers off, Copa Libertadores suspended

March 13 – FIFA has postponed this month’s South American World Cup qualifiers amid Coronavirus concerns. Conmebol had requested the postponement.

“Following consultation with CONMEBOL, FIFA has decided to postpone the upcoming South American qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 as follows: matches originally scheduled to take place during the international window of 23-31 March 2020 are postponed to later dates,” said a FIFA statement.

It added: “Details of the postponed matches will be discussed and announced soon.”

South America was scheduled to embark on its long road to the 2022 Qatar World Cup at the end of March. The South Americans traditionally play in a ten-team league with home-and-away round-robin matches, and 4.5 slots for the finals at stake.

“Everything has been cancelled around the world,” said Brazil’s assistant coach Cleber Xavier. “We have to organize ourselves to work until the next call-up which is supposed to be in May. No one knows what the near future will look like: When will these postponed matches be played? In June? Will the Copa America be played? Will the European Championship be played? At this moment, you have to think positively so that things don’t become worse.”

Brazil head coach Tite selected both Casemiro and Eder Militao from Real Madrid as well as Alex Sandro from Juventus for his team’s two World Cup qualifiers. Argentina called up six Italy-based players, including Paulo Dybala from Juventus and Lautaro Martinez from Inter Milan. In Argentina, some sporting events have been cancelled until April. Brazil, South America’s largest country, has not yet taken measures in that direction.

FIFA said it “will continue to assess the situation in relation to COVID-19 and will decide whether further changes to the schedule of South American FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifiers are required, always with the aim of protecting the health and safety of all individuals involved.”

Conmebol also suspended the Copa Libertadores, its flagship club competition. Next week’s matches will not go ahead.

“Conmebol is committed to the prevention of COVID-19, at the risk of its expansion, and the safeguard of the players, coaching staff, delegates, referees, officials, press and fans, has made the decision to suspend the matches of the Conmebol Libertadores 2020 from the week of March 15 to 21,” wrote the South American governing body in a statement.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1585729426labto1585729426ofdlr1585729426owedi1585729426sni@o1585729426fni1585729426