FIFA has decided on Thursday to cancel both the 2021 FIFA U-17 World Cup and the 2021 FIFA U-20 World Cup, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic being the main reason behind the two tournaments’ cancellation. Both tournaments will now be held in 2023, with Peru retaining their hosting rights for the U-17 World Cup and Indonesia remaining as the hosts for the U-20 World Cup tournament.
The highest authority of football made the decision in a press release issued on Thursday, which discussed about the future of both the U-17 and U-20 World Cups as well as announcing the expansion of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup which will be hosted by both Australia and New Zealand.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to present challenges for the hosting of international sporting events and to have a restrictive effect on international travel,” said FIFA in their press release, “FIFA has therefore regularly consulted the relevant stakeholders, including the host member associations as well as the confederations involved in both tournaments originally scheduled to take place in 2021. In doing so, it became clear that the global situation has failed to normalize to a sufficient level to address the challenges associated with hosting both tournaments, including the feasibility of the relevant qualification pathways.”
The decision to cancel the 2021 U-20 World Cup and move the tournament to 2023 was welcomed by the Football Federation of Indonesia (PSSI), who vowed to use the extra two years worth of preparation to improve on both off-field matters regarding the tournament as well as the current crop of Indonesia U-19 national team talent.
“The PSSI are fully supporting FIFA’s decision to delay the U-20 World Cup until 2023,” said PSSI chairman Mochamad Irawan as quoted from Bola.com, “Together with FIFA, INAFOC, and all of the World Cup’s host cities, we at the PSSI hope that we could cooperate with the relevant stakeholders in the successful execution of the 2023 tournament.”
“With the cancellation of the 2021 tournament and it’s postponement to 2023, we hope that the U-19 national team could take advantage of the additional preparation time to better equip themselves for the 2023 U-20 World Cup. I hope that this added preparation could go well and could improve our team thoroughly, so hopefully we’ll win the upcoming U-20 World Cup,” continued Irawan.
The cancellation of the 2021 FIFA U-20 World Cup would also hopefully give the PSSI less headaches in regards of the resumption of the still-suspended 2020 Liga 1 and Liga 2 seasons, with the two leagues set for a February 2021 restart. With no U-20 World Cup in 2021, the two leagues should be able to wrap up before or around the first half of 2021, pending any further delays.