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South America asks FIFA to delay World Cup qualifiers

The president of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), Paraguayan Alejandro Dominguez, delivers a speech during the CONMEBOL’s preliminary draw for Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup in Luque, Paraguay, on December 17, 2019. © AFP / NORBERTO DUARTE

ASUNCION, Paraguay, Mar 12South America’s football federations asked FIFA on Wednesday to delay their qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar because of the global new coronavirus pandemic.

“The South American teams risk not being able to count on players they have picked and who play in Europe because they, arriving from countries with a high level of contagion, could be placed in quarantine,” said a letter from CONMEBOL, South American football’s governing body, to FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura.

Qualifying matches are due to begin on March 26.

The letter said it expressed the position of its 10 members: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

The letter said they “have asked CONMEBOL to place for consideration by FIFA the request to postpone the start of the World Cup qualifiers.”

Many of the South American players selected for their national sides play in Europe, where the deadly new coronavirus is rapidly spreading.

Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni has picked six players based in Italy, where the virus has killed at least 827 people in just over two weeks.

The new coronavirus has already disrupted numerous major sporting events worldwide, including Italy’s Serie A football whose matches are suspended.

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