ZURICH (Reuters) - FIFA has recommended that all international matches scheduled to be played in March and April be postponed because of the coronavirus and said that clubs would not be obliged to release players for any games that go ahead.
The South American and Asian World Cup qualifiers which were due to be played have already been postponed. However, European body UEFA has not yet called off the Euro 2020 playoff matches which involve a total of 16 teams.
Several of the teams involved in those games have already asked for postponements and the matches would be not be viable without club co-operation. UEFA will stage a meeting on Tuesday where a decision is likely to be taken.
FIFA said that holding matches under current circumstances could present health risks to the players and public.
“It would also, most likely, compromise the sporting integrity of such matches insofar as certain teams may be deprived of their best squads whilst others may not,” said FIFA.
“To avoid any unnecessary health risks and also situations of potential sporting unfairness, we therefore recommend that all international matches previously scheduled to take place in March and April should now be postponed.”
It said that “the general football rules which normally oblige clubs to release players for national team matches will not apply for the up-coming international windows in March/April.”
FIFA said it would study the possibilities for re-scheduling with the continental confederations, players and clubs. It said that “appropriate solutions will be found to allow the matches to take place in due course and with minimal disruption” provided there was goodwill and flexibility on all sides.
Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar