Asian World Cup qualifiers pushed to 2021 due to COVID-19

HAMBURG, GERMANY - MAY 25: The FIFA World Cup is pictured at the city hall on May 25, 2006 in Hamburg, Germany. The FIFA World Cup will be presented to the public on May 26, 2006 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: The FIFA World Cup. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The qualifiers in Asia for the 2022 FIFA World Cup were suspended until 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a joint statement released by FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said.

The games were expected to take place during the international match windows in October and November this year.

“With the aim of protecting the health and safety of all participants, FIFA and the AFC will continue to work together to closely monitor the situation in the region and to identify new dates for the respective qualifying matches,” the statement read in part.

The statement added that more details on the new dates for the next round of qualifying matches will be announced in due course.

Qualifiers scheduled for March and June this year were also postponed. The matches also double up as qualifiers for the 2023 Asian Cup which is to be staged in China.

In June, the FIFA Council made a decision to postpone the September 2020 window for four confederations: Africa, Asia, North and Central America and the Oceania region.

The Council also decided to extend the June 2021 window by seven days for the four confederations to enable teams to play four matches instead of two.