Coronavirus: FIFA requests all matches during international window in March and April be postponed

In the off-chance someone was holding out hope that soccer’s international window would serve as a brief respite of the barren wasteland that is the sports world at this current moment, FIFA made sure to put a stop to that real quick. The international governing body of soccer announced Friday that they’re asking all international games scheduled throughout the next month-and-a-half to be delayed as the planet sorts out the current COVID-19 situation.

Per a release on FIFA’s website:

To avoid any unnecessary health risks and also situations of potential sporting unfairness, we therefore recommend that all international matches previously scheduled to take place in March and April should now be postponed until such time that they can take place in a safe and secure environment, both for players and for the general public. The final decision on this issue rests with the respective competition organizers or relevant member association in case of friendlies.

The qualifying matches for the FIFA World Cup in both Asia and South America have already been postponed following consultation between FIFA and the confederations concerned.

As a result of this decision, teams will no longer be obligated to release players for national team matches, per tradition around this time of year.

From the language of the announcement, it seems that FIFA is confident in the ability of rescheduling these games with “minimal disruption,” relying on the “goodwill and flexibility from all sides,” though what exactly that phrase means remains to be seen. No timeline was provided as to when the organization expects to allow international friendlies again.

The coronavirus has already touched down in the world of soccer, with nine players — including Juventus’ Daniele Rugani and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi — one manager (Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta) and one club owner (Evangelos Mainakis of Olympiakos and Nottingham Forest) being diagnosed with the disease. As of Friday afternoon, over 145,000 have been confirmed to have coronavirus. Nearly 71,000 of the people diagnosed have recovered, while over 5,400 have died because of it. 

For more on all of the cancellations related to COVID-19, follow CBS Sports and CBS News.

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