The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has said that the health of the players, officials and fans is their priority as the Asian football fraternity fights COVID-19 outbreak.
“[The] changes to our calendar were aimed at ensuring the safety and health of our Members, their officials, their players, their staff and, of course, the millions of fans who engage with football in Asia each year,” AFC president Salman bin Ibrahim Al-Khalifa said in a statement.
“Their health is, and always will be, our priority,” he added.
The AFC and FIFA had earlier decided to postpone all upcoming international fixtures in the continent, including the 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers ties, to later dates as a measure to fight the coronavirus spread.
“Their health is, and always will be our priority.”
The AFC President addresses the Member Associations. pic.twitter.com/niIipBlseD
— AFC (@theafcdotcom) March 23, 2020
Moreover, most countries in Asia have also suspended their domestic leagues due to various restrictions imposed to bring the pandemic under control.
“In these unprecedented and challenging times, the AFC extends its wish that all members of the Asian football community remain safe and healthy. Football will have an important role to play in the weeks and months ahead as the world returns to normality, but now our focus is firmly on protecting the well-being of all those who are involved in our great game,” the AFC president said in the statement addressed to various stakeholders of the game.
“Each of you, in varying degrees, have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and many of your Governments have taken swift and strong action to prevent its spread and limit its impact on your communities including partial lockdown or restricting movement,” he said.
— AFC (@theafcdotcom) March 22, 2020
“The AFC has built its strong foundations on unity and solidarity – particularly in the face of adversity – during the last six years and this situation is another challenge which we will take on together to protect not only our communities but also the future of our game,” Salman said.
“Please all remain safe and I look forward to the time when football can again play a significant role in bringing excitement and joy to people across Asia,” he added.