The Confederation of African Football (CAF) have suspended the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers indefinitely over Coronavirus fears.
The Africa football governing body made this call to contain the spread of the pandemic. According to CAF, it was also made to protect the health and safety of stakeholders, players, match officials and sponsors.
The games were initially scheduled to hold between March 25 and 31 across several countries scattered throughout the continent.
The postponement comes in the wake of travel restrictions set by several countries to contain the spread of the virus.
“Coronavirus has been declared as a pandemic by WHO. In Africa, only few cases have been reported, but the situation could evolve negatively. Several players, who are supposed to play the next Afcon qualifiers, come from countries which have been severely affected by the virus (Europe, Asia),” the official statement released by CAF read.
“Several African governments have taken strong restrictions on travels; lock down, quarantine for people coming from countries affected by the virus. Several clubs refuse now to release their players for the next international matches.
“For the above reasons and after studying carefully the current situation, Caf has decided to postpone the Total Africa Cup of Nations 2021 qualifiers, scheduled from 25 to 31 March 2020.”
Earlier this week, CAF said that inter-club competitions would still continue as initially scheduled. On the other hand, the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF through its President, Amanju Pinnick said that the body had proposed to move players of the Nigerian National team from their respective bases in Europe.
A number of football competitions and leagues across Europe have also been suspended following the quick spread of the virus.