World football governing body FIFA has postponed South American qualifying matches for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
This was after a request from the region’s football federation amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus.
FIFA said in a letter to the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), which the federation tweeted, that it would seek to reschedule the 10 matches.
They were due to take place between March 23 and March 31.
A number of Latin America’s top football stars play for European teams in countries that have seen significant cases of the virus.
They would have faced quarantines on their return to their home countries.
FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura told her counterpart at CONMEBOL, Jose Astigarraga, that the health and safety of those involved in the World Cup was her primary concern.
“We will continue to work with and consult you and your team to be able to find possible dates in which these matches can be played, something which will require… solutions that take into account the unique and fast-changing nature of this exceptional situation,” she wrote in the letter.
Meanwhile earlier, FIFA had rescheduled its 70th Congress that was scheduled for May 2020 at the African Union’s headquarters in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.
The event has been moved to September 2020 in Addis Ababa. An official FIFA statement issued on Wednesday (March 11) read in part:
“On account of the spread of COVID-19, numerous international bodies and public health authorities have advised against the organisation of international events.