GENEVA (WR) — All Asian qualifying video games for the 2022 World Cup scheduled this yr have been postponed to 2021 on Wednesday, including to a world fixture backlog for soccer’s largest competitors brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

FIFA and the Asian Soccer Confederation issued a joint assertion saying the delay is to guard the well being and security of all members from COVID-19. The video games will likely be rescheduled in 2021.

Every of 40 nations concerned have been resulting from play three or 4 rounds to finish the present part of World Cup qualifying in Asia which now fell additional not on time with no video games performed in 2020.

FIFA’s world calendar of national-team video games now has too few dates to finish the qualifying program as initially deliberate after the most recent spherical of postponements.

The slots in June 2022 protected for national-team video games are quick turning into key to deciding the 32-nation World Cup lineup. But these dates can be found solely due to the disputed FIFA choice in 2015 to maneuver the finals event to November and December to keep away from Qatar’s searing summer time warmth.

Soccer governing our bodies for Europe and South America already proposed adjustments to create space for extra national-team video games.

UEFA is including a 3rd recreation into conventional double-header weeks for nationwide groups, forward of dropping dates for World Cup qualifiers in June 2021 when the postponed 2020 European Championship is performed. Nonetheless, this answer is extra sophisticated for different continents with higher journey calls for, together with for Europe-based gamers.

South America’s CONMEBOL has but to start out its scheduled 18-round World Cup qualifying group and requested FIFA for an additional block of video games in January 2022. That may possible be unpopular with European golf equipment if they’re required to launch gamers for extra weeks in what’s going to already be a congested season.

FIFA and the AFC mentioned they might work collectively “to establish new dates for the respective qualifying matches.”

The 4 rounds of video games postponed Wednesday would have accomplished the second spherical of World Cup qualifying in Asia, that additionally feeds into groups advancing to the 2023 Asian Cup hosted by China.

The eight group winners and the 4 finest runners-up advance to the third stage of qualifying for the finals event in Qatar 2022.

Japan leads its group after 4 straight wins with out conceding a aim. South Korea, a 2002 World Cup semifinalist, is in a decent group tied with North Korea and Lebanon, and trailing chief Turkmenistan by a degree.

Australia additionally has 4 straight wins to be two factors away from Kuwait and Jordan. Syria has gained 5 straight to steer its group by eight factors from China and the Philippines.

The following scheduled part includes 12 nations in two round-robin teams of 10 video games for every group. These will ship 4 groups to Qatar.

Two additional playoff rounds are within the meant Asian program. Two groups would play a two-leg collection to resolve which advances to an inter-continental playoff spherical with one nation from every of South America, Oceania and North American area CONCACAF.

FIFA already pushed again the inter-continental spherical from March 2022 to June that yr due to the pandemic.

Throughout AFC member international locations, home leagues have resumed in underneath strict well being protocols in China, Japan, South Korea and Australia. The Chinese language authorities mentioned final month it could not host any worldwide sports activities occasion for the remainder of 2020 until it was to check venues for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.

___

Pye reported from Brisbane, Australia

___

Extra WR soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports