World football governing body FIFA on Thursday proposed postponing all the upcoming 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup Cup qualifiers, including India’s home game against Qatar, due to the rising coronavirus threat.
FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) met at the apex body’s headquarters in Zurich to discuss football activities in Asia.
Already out of World Cup contention after failing to win a single game, India is scheduled to play 2022 tournament host Qatar in Bhubaneswar on March 26, followed by matches against Bangladesh and Afghanistan in June.
“For both FIFA and the AFC, the well-being and health of all individuals involved in football matches remains the highest priority, and as such, a formal proposal to postpone upcoming matches in the Asian FIFA World Cup 2022 and AFC Asian Cup 2023 qualifiers will now be shared with the relevant member associations,” FIFA said in a statement.
FIFA and the AFC will provide an update on these fixtures in the coming days following consultation with the AFC member associations.
“FIFA will continue to monitor the situation in relation to COVID-19 in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO), the confederations and the member associations.
“Information on other international matches may be provided by the relevant confederation or member association.”
Although the Blue Tigers lost their World Cup qualifier opener to Oman, they kept their chances alive after holding Asian champions Qatar to a goalless draw away. But last-minute draws against Bangladesh and Afghanistan followed by a narrow 1-0 away loss to Oman put them out of contention.
India is now seeking to qualify for the 2023 Asian Cup.
Other topics of discussion during the meeting were the women’s Olympic play-off between Korea Republic and China, as well as the AFC Futsal Championship Turkmenistan 2020.