CFA postpones domestic football season due to coronavirus

(Image Credit: Chinese Football Association)

The Chinese Football Association is postponing the start of the 2020 season of its national football leagues at all levels, including the top-tier Super League, in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Other competitions affected include League One, League Two and the FA Cup.

In a statement posted on its website, the CFA said: “In order to help prevent and control the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, and to protect the health of fans, media, players, coaches, game officials, clubs and staff, the CFA has decided to start the postpone the start of the 2020 national football competitions at all levels.

“The CFA will  maintain close communication with national authorities, manage the needs of each competition with consideration of how the outbreak develops, and make reasonable adjustments to the schedule and scale of some events as necessary. Relevant information will be released through the official channels of the Chinese Football Association.

“The CFA, on behalf of the majority of football staff across the country, pays deep tribute to all medical workers and staff who are currently struggling on the frontline of fighting this epidemic!”

The first round of the CSL was scheduled to kick off on the weekend of February 22-23, and to run until December 31. The League One regular season was to run from February 29 to November 1, and League Two from March 11 to October 31.

Earlier this month, the CFA postponed the season-opening Super Cup fixture between CSL champion Guangzhou Evergrande and FA Cup champion Shanghai Shenhua. This was to be played in Suzhou on February 5.

Local media reported earlier this week that China’s General Administration of Sport has instructed the country’s sports associations to consider cancelling upcoming events as far as April. The CFA’s decision follows in the footsteps of other major sport event organisers who have postponed or cancelled events.

In other coronavirus news affecting Chinese club football, the Asian Football Confederation has changed the order of the home matches to be played by Chinese clubs in the AFC Champions League. Following consultation with the CFA, the home games for four Chinese clubs on the first three match days will be rescheduled as away games instead.

The AFC said: “The decision, which was also made in conjunction with the competing clubs from the respective groups, is a precautionary measure to ensure the safety and well-being of all participating players and teams.”

The revised schedule means that Beijing Guoan will visit FC Seoul on February 11 and Melbourne Victory on March 3.

Shanghai SIPG will face South Korean Jeonbuk Motors on February 19, and then Yokahama F Marinos after, while Shanghai Shenhua to face Ulsan Hyundai for their second match on February 18.

Chinese Super League champions Guangzhou Evergrande will travel to Suwon Bluewings on Febuary 12.

The AFC said it would monitor the situation before making any further changes.