KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- World football federation FIFA has decided already that its once-postponed annual congress will now be held online for the first time.
Congress was set originally for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on June 5. The advance of the coronavirus pandemic led to its postponement until September 20 and now it has been pulled altogether.
The online congress will be organised on September 18. The other major sports summit, the International Olympic Committee session in Tokyo in July, has also been shifted online.
FIFA’s decision, signalling an expectation of travel restrictions into the autumn, will prompt questions about whether entire teams – never mind small groups of officials – will be safe to fly around by then.
This opens up doubts over any plans to resume World Cup qualifying competitions and international club competitions – including the UEFA Champions League and Europa League – any time later this year.
The congress decision was taken on a recommendation of the FIFA-Confederations COVID-19 Working Group to the bureau (president Gianni Infantino and the heads of the six regions).
European federation UEFA has set its member associations a May 25 decision on how to complete their domestic leagues in the hope of constructing a club competitions roadmap for the 2020-21 season.
A start has been tentatively envisaged in October but everything depends on how and when different countries emerge from their pandemic lockdowns which is a matter for governments and not football associations.
Bureau also confirmed postponement of age-group tournaments as follows:
—U-20 Women’s World Cup Costa Rica/Panama 2020 to January 20 to February 6 (tournament to keep original eligibility criteria: players born on or after January 1, 2000 and on or before December 31, 2004);
—U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2020 to February 17 to March 7, 2021 (tournament to keep original eligibility criteria: players born on or after January 1, 2003, and on or before December 31, 2005); and
—Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2020 to September 12 to October 3, 2021.