Saturday, 11 July 2020

South American qualifying matches for 2022 World Cup pushed back a month

South American World Cup qualifying start pushed back to October

South American qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic, has been pushed back a month and will start in October, world football governing body Fifa said on Friday.

The first two rounds of matches at the end of March could not be played due to football being suspended on the continent over the deadly virus.

In April, South American football's governing body CONMEBOL said the qualification campaign would begin in September, when the third and fourth rounds of matches were originally due to be played.

The competition will now begin in October on what was the fifth round of matches in the original programme.

It means that the two governing bodies must find space in a fixture calendar already crammed due to the delays provoked by the coronavirus for four rounds of international qualifiers.

"The CONMEBOL Council has today requested Fifa to include a replacement international window in January 2022 in the International Match Calendar in order to complete the South American qualifiers in March 2022," said Fifa in a statement.

South American qualifiers are played on a home and away round robin basis involving all 10 member nations, meaning they must each play 18 matches.

It was originally due to end in November 2021.

But as well as finding new dates for the first four postponed rounds, CONMEBOL will need to re-arrange two rounds of matches due to be played in June 2021.

With the 2020 Copa America, the continent's flagship international tournament between nations, postponed until next year due to the virus, it will now begin on June 11, 2021.

The World Cup qualifiers were due to be played in the week before that.

The top four finishers in South American qualifying will book their tickets for the finals in Qatar, while the fifth-placed side will go into an inter-continental play-off.


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