CONMEBOL suspends March World Cup qualifiers

CONMEBOL suspends March World Cup qualifiers

South America’s footballing governing body has suspended the two World Cup qualifying rounds due to take place in March.

CONMEBOL issued a statement on Saturday confirming it will speak with FIFA and national associations to agree on new dates for the matches.

The decision was taken amid concerns around the logistics of players joining up with their national teams while travel restrictions caused by the coronavirus pandemic are in place.

CONMEBOL said it was “impossible” to guarantee all South American players could link up with respective squads in a timely manner.

The next two rounds of matches were scheduled to be held on March 25, 26 and 30.

A number of club managers had expressed concerns over players travelling amid the coronavirus pandemic, with the prospect of being ruled out of matches to carry out spells in quarantine causing particular concern.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said it would “make no sense” if players had to isolate for 10 days after returning from international duty, echoing similar sentiments from Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp.

The German insisted clubs should be “first priority” as they pay the wages, hinting that the Reds would not release players to represent their country this month.

Saturday’s announcement should ease those fears, but FIFA and CONMEBOL have a tough task to find suitable dates for the fixtures to be played, and the challenges posed by COVID-19 are likely to persist for some time.

Argentina v Brazil was among the high-profile fixtures which have now been postponed.

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