National soccer teams may not play this year due to COVID-19 – FIFA
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic may now force international matches not to be played this year as the various leagues around the world would be top priority should life return to normalcy soon, according to FIFA Vice-president Victor Montagliani.
FIFA have already called off international matches in March and June no thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The Eagles last played on November 17, 2019, when they beat hosts Lesotho 4-2 in a 2021 AFCON qualifier.
The double-header against Sierra Leone in March as well as an AFCON qualifier in Benin in June have since been postponed.
The three-time Africa champions are now scheduled to host Lesotho in a reverse tie for the 2021 AFCON on September 8.
Montagliani, who leads a FIFA committee to oversee the fall-outs for football because of the Coronavirus, has now warned that the international windows of September, October and November could also be called off.
“Personally, I think it will be a challenge (to play international games then). Not only because of the health problems around the world and the need for preparation, but also with regard to having to go abroad as soon as we start again,” said Montagliani who is also president of CONCACAF.
“I think the leagues will be first priority. The international matches in September are still ahead, but I would rather not say that they are not safe because such things are now.”
He further suggested that the qualifying format of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar may have to be redesigned on account of these several postponements.
FIFA President, Gianni Infantino had earlier restated his position in a message sent to its 211-member federations last weekend.
“Our first priority, our principle, the one we will use for our competitions and encourage everyone to follow is that health comes first,” the FIFA President said. “I cannot stress this enough. No match, no competition, no league is worth risking a single human life.
“Everyone in the world should have this very clear in their mind. It would be more than irresponsible to force competitions to resume if things are not 100% safe. If we have to wait a little longer, we must do so. It’s better to wait a little bit longer than to take any risks,” concludes the FIFA chief.