In a meeting conducted on Thursday night, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) have decided to cancel the remainder of the 2020 AFC Cup competition due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Alongside this year’s AFC Cup, the upcoming 2020 AFC Futsal Club Championship was also cancelled, along with the 2020 AFC Solidarity Cup. Both the AFC U-16 and U-19 Championships will be postponed until early 2021, while the 2020 AFC Futsal Championship will be held in Kuwait this coming December.
The decision was made in a Zoom meeting between members of the AFC Executive Committee and AFC president Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, in the light of the upcoming resumption of the group stage matches of the 2020 AFC Champions League West Zone.
With the 2020 AFC Cup being suspended since March, an initial plan was made to hold the remaining group stage matches in centralized venues, with the South Zone matches being scheduled to be held in the Maldives, while the ASEAN Zone matches are being focused within Vietnam. However due to the constant rise of coronavirus cases combined with the logistical complexity in holding the competition with only 3 months to go until the end of 2020, it was agreed on Thursday that the 2020 edition of Asia’s secondary club cup competition will be scrapped. Similarly both the AFC Solidarity Cup and the AFC Futsal Club Championship, both scheduled for this year, were also cancelled, with the former now to be held in 2024 and the latter in 2021.
Taking into consideration the welfare of players as well as the challenges posed by traveling during the ongoing pandemic, AFC have also made the decision to postpone the AFC U-16 and U-19 Championships until early 2021, with both competitions initially set to be held this year in Bahrain and Uzbekistan respectively.
The 2020 AFC Futsal Championship, initially to be held on August in Turkmenistan, was moved to December with Kuwait as the new hosts of the tournament.
“These are tough times for everyone connected with football – and sport in general. We are taking steps to ensure the financial well-being of the AFC and its member associations,” said Sheikh Salman, “I am certain that with the unity and solidarity for which the AFC has become admired across football, we can overcome this latest challenge.”
The 2020 AFC Champions League will still be held, albeit with a number of delays to the remaining fixtures. The West Zone group stage matches are set to be held in Qatar starting from next week, although Al-Wahda of the United Arab Emirates were forced to drop out of the competition after a number of their members were tested positive for COVID-19. The East Zone group stage matches, with matches from two groups being held in Malaysia, were postponed further from it’s initial schedule of mid-October-November to November 15th-December 1st.
Consequentially, this year’s ACL final, set to be held on December 5th, is being pushed back to December 19th. The final will be a one-legged affair, held within the West Zone.