KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The fragile continuance of international football has been underlined by the withdrawal of New Zealand’s Auckland City from next month’s FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar.

The tournament has already been reschedule from last December.

City’s decision was necessitated, according to the world governing body, because “the New Zealand authorities in relation to isolation and quarantine go beyond FIFA’s remit and, therefore, it was not possible to reach a solution.”

However the decision will send a shiver down the administrative spines of all the international federations, especially UEFA considering the challenge it will face in March in deciding the fate of the rescheduled European Championship finals in June and July.

FIFA, to head off other Club World Cup competitors developing cold feet, insisted that “together with the Qatari authorities, [we] will implement a comprehensive medical and security protocol providing the safeguards required to protect the health and safety of everyone involved in the competition.”

Auckland’s withdrawal makes little difference to the shape of the competition which usually features two imbalanced qualifying rounds to reach the four-team semi-finals. In effect Al Duhail SC will have a bye into the second round.