Bagota, March 13 (IANS) FIFA has postponed the start of the South American zone’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers slated for March-end in the wake of a global coronavirus outbreak.
The announcement came a day after the South American Football Confederation, CONMEBOL, told FIFA that each of its 10 member-federations were opposed to staging the first two rounds of qualifiers from March 26 to 31, as scheduled.
“FIFA 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,” said FIFA in a statement on Thursday.
The coronavirus outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), whose chief expressed his “deep concern” over the “alarming levels of inaction” in combating the virus spread.
The last time the WHO declared a pandemic was during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, which infected nearly a quarter of the world’s population.
There are now over 126,000 cases of COVID-19 spread across 114 countries. The disease has already claimed over 4,613 lives.