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AFC extends suspension as Fifa officials hint at longer shutdown

Fans of Yokohama F.Marinos cheer prior to during the AFC Champions League Group H match between Yokohama F.Marinos and Sydney FC at Nissan Stadium on February 19, 2020 in Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan. (Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images)

The Asian Football Confederation has announced an indefinite postponement of all matches and competitions scheduled to take place in May and June.

Citing travel restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the AFC said it will continue to engage and consult with the participating member associations in its club competitions and will explore all possible options in order to complete the 2020 Champions League and AFC Cup Group Stages.

There were also due to be two matchdays in June for the AFC’s joint 2022 Fifa World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup qualifiers.

The action comes in the wake of earlier postponements to matches in March and April, which came after a series of emergency meetings in Delhi, Doha, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur.

Elsewhere, a Fifa vice president has indicated no international football may be played until 2021. Victor Montagliani, a Canadian who is president of Concacaf, football’s governing body for North and Central America and the Caribbean, highlighted the need to give club competitions the chance to resume first.

Montagliani has been heading a Fifa working group since last month, formulating plans to deal with the implications of the global football shut down.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino, meanwhile, has warned countries not to start playing football again too early, saying safety has to come first. Football is shut down almost everywhere in the world and Infantino says it would be “irresponsible” to resume before there are clear signs that Covid-19 is easing.

“No match, no competition, no league is worth risking a single human life,” Infantino said. “It’s better to wait a little bit longer than to take risks,” he told Fifa’s 211 member associations by video link.