ZURICH: AS Pirae from Tahiti will step up to compete at the Club World Cup in February in the United Arab Emirates after the pandemic-enforced withdrawal of New Zealand’s Auckland City.

The Oceania Champions League has been moribund for the past two years so Auckland had been nominated by the regional confederation based on what was described as “sporting merit principles.”

A similar opaque ‘reasoning’ was given by the OFC for the choice of AS Pirae as substitutes.

A statement from world football federation FIFA said:

Despite recent exchanges between FIFA, Auckland City FC, New Zealand Football and the OFC, FIFA was informed that the delayed reopening of the borders in New Zealand due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the reintroduction of the mandatory Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ) system upon returning to the country, meant that Auckland City FC had to reluctantly withdraw from the tournament.

As a result, AS Pirae (TAH) have now been nominated as the OFC’s representative for the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021™. AS Pirae (TAH) will join the continental club champions, including Monterrey (Concacaf), Chelsea (UEFA), Palmeiras (CONMEBOL), Al Hilal SFC (AFC), Al Ahly (CAF), as well as UAE champions, Al Jazira, at the tournament.

The FIFA Club World Cup 2021™ is scheduled to take place in the UAE from 3 to 12 February 2022. For further information and updates on the tournament, including the match schedule, please visit FIFA.com.