FIFA postpones Africa’s September international football window

Soccer Football - Africa Cup of Nations 2019 - Group F - Benin v Cameroon - Ismailia Stadium, Ismailia, Egypt - July 2, 2019 Cameroon's Collins Fai in action with Benin's Jodel Dossou REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
FILE PHOTO: Cameroon’s Collins Fai in action with Benin’s Jodel Dossou. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

Africa’s international football window in September was postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic following a decision at a FIFA Council meeting.

The window was also postponed in Asia, Oceania and the North and Central America and the Caribbean countries.

“As a result of an extensive consultation process with the confederations and stakeholders across the football landscape, the COVID-19 FIFA-Confederations Working Group agreed to put forward five proposals in relation to the Men’s International Match Calendar in the wake of the pandemic,” FIFA said in a statement.

FIFA also said it will extend the June 2021 window by seven days for the four football confederations (AFC, CAF, CONCACAF and OFC) to allow four games to be played instead of the current two games to compensate for the September window.

The second round of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Africa was scheduled to begin in March and run through to October next year until football was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

FIFA also backed a proposal for a pan-Arab tournament to be held in Qatar in December 2021 by Arab countries from Africa and Asia. The tournament will be played outside the international calendar and involve home-based players only.

“The tournament, which will be held in Qatar from 1-18 December 2021, will be delivered by the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC and will allow the organisers to use facilities and run operations that are also planned for the subsequent FIFA World Cup 2022™.”

FIFA also confirmed a $1.5 billion COVID-19 pandemic relief plan to be rolled out in three stages to assist the global football community.

The last stage, approved by the Council, saw further financial support provided through a system of grants and loans.

“A universal solidarity grant of USD 1 million will be made available to all member associations, and an additional grant of USD 500,000 will be allocated specifically to women’s football. In addition, each confederation will receive a grant of USD 2 million,” FIFA said.

With regard to loans, FIFA said that a minimum interest-free loan of $500,000 and a maximum of $5 million will be available to member associations while each confederation will have access to a loan of up to $4 million.

FIFA added that there will be strict controls on the use of funds, audit requirements and clear loan repayment conditions.

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