The Asian qualifying matches for the Qatar 2022 World Cup set for October and November 2020 have been postponed.
The video games, which had been initially meant to be held in March and June, had already been pushed again as soon as earlier than FIFA’s newest announcement. The upshot is most nationwide groups in Asia gained’t play any video games in any respect in 2020.
They may have been caught at matchday seven of the second qualifying spherical for greater than a 12 months when play lastly resumes. This might result in some scheduling challenges subsequent 12 months if Asia is to finish its Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying on time. Cramming three video games right into a two-game worldwide break isn’t an choice attributable to journey occasions between international locations in Asia, which means FIFA must discover some new dates from someplace to complete the World Cup qualifying.
UEFA have scheduled their Nations League matches for the autumn worldwide breaks, and for the time being UEFA has given no indication that these video games gained’t go forward.
However UEFA have mentioned that some matches may very well be performed at impartial venues. And the preliminary rounds of the 2020/21 Champions League recommend that the Nations League may not be fairly plain crusing.
Kosovan aspect FC Drita had been set to play Northern Eire’s Linfield when just a few hours earlier than kickoff on Tuesday the match was postponed after a second participant from FC Drita examined optimistic for COVID-19 and the crew had been quarantined by Swiss authorities. Linfield look set to obtain a bye following UEFA’s pandemic guidelines and can face Legia Warsaw within the subsequent spherical.
These occasions present that although soccer has restarted, COVID-19 can nonetheless play havoc with soccer’s schedule over the subsequent 12 months. And with the 2020/21 season being condensed into fewer weeks to ensure that Euro 2020 (2021) to start out on time, there may be little margin for error.
That is the place FIFA ought to step in.
Taking part in home video games is one factor, however with border quarantines and outbreaks in a single nation affecting complete worldwide schedules, enjoying worldwide video games is a logistical nightmare.
FIFA ought to rearrange its 2020/21 calendar to replicate this. For Europe, it ought to work with UEFA to do away with the 2020 worldwide breaks and as an alternative transfer the Nations League to only forward of Euro 2020.
That method, the Nations League can act as a heat up for groups to arrange for the match, and if one other COVID-19 outbreak means European leagues must take a brief break, the Nations League will be sacrificed to permit the home seasons to complete with out affecting the showpiece Euro 2020 match.
The fixture calendar is already so packed that subsequent season’s Champions League has already began earlier than this season’s match has even reached the semi-final stage. Groups will get a particularly quick preseason, after which play a condensed schedule filled with midweek fixtures. Even when every part goes to plan, gamers can be exhausted by Euro 2020. If there’s a second wave of the pandemic this winter, there gained’t be sufficient time to complete the league earlier than Euro 2020 is meant to start out.
For Asia, giving extra time subsequent summer season will make it simpler to reschedule the complete 12 months of World Cup qualifiers which have fallen sufferer to COVID-19 and clear up the fixture backlog. It might additionally give coaches extra time with their groups and cut back the whole quantity of journey time, particularly for European-based gamers like Son Heung-min, who had a grueling schedule in 2018.
It is smart to try to shift as a lot of 2020’s cross-border fixtures to 2021 to scale back the chance of cancellations. This might additionally result in fewer video games behind closed doorways.
Atalanta’s Champions League match with Valencia again in February has been seen as quickening the unfold of COVID-19 in Italy and Spain. Whereas some home video games will see followers sooner or later subsequent season (for monetary causes, followers must return, even when at a decreased capability), there’ll understandably be extra hesitation in permitting followers to attend cross-border matches to forestall the chance of one other state of affairs like that within the San Siro in February.
Altering the schedule might permit extra worldwide matches to be performed in entrance of followers as an alternative of behind closed doorways.
This implies a rethink of the fixture listing would make monetary sense in addition to decreasing the chance of COVID-19 enjoying havoc with subsequent season’s schedule the way in which it has with this season’s fixture lists.