BY LIAM MORGAN.
FIFA has postponed its Congress in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia from June to September because of the coronavirus outbreak.
In a statement today, FIFA confirmed the annual gathering of its membership would remain in the Ethiopian capital but has been pushed back from June 5 to September 18.
A FIFA Council meeting planned for next Friday (March 20) has also been rescheduled and is set to be held in June or July at the governing body’s headquarters in Zurich.
The decision to postpone the Congress, made by the Bureau of the FIFA Council, comes amid mounting international concern over the spread of the virus.
Ethiopia has not reported any cases of the virus, officially known as COVID-19, but attendees at the Congress would have come from numerous countries to have been affected.
Travel restrictions have also been put in place by some nations in an effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, which has so far killed 4,387 people and infected more than 121,000 worldwide.
FIFA said it had rescheduled the Congress as the later dates give all member associations a better chance of attending.
“Concerns over the health and well-being of participants, as well as travel restrictions in many countries, have resulted in the cancellation or postponement of many such events in various parts of the world,” FIFA said in a statement.
“Mindful of this, and given the wish of FIFA to organise a Congress which all member associations are able to attend, the Bureau of the FIFA Council decided to reschedule the 70th FIFA Congress from Friday, 5 June 2020 to Friday, 18 September 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.”
Dozens of events have been postponed, cancelled or relocated due to the virus, including World Championships, Olympic qualifiers and Tokyo 2020 test events.
Football is among the sports to have been impacted, with leagues in Italy and Switzerland suspended and other countries considering introducing similar measures.
Matches in Europe have also been played behind closed doors, including in the UEFA Champions League, the premier club competition on the continent.
Games in the UEFA Europa League due to be held tomorrow have also been affected.
The Asian Football Confederation was forced to move one of the groups at its women’s Olympic qualifier and this week postponed two rounds of 2022 World Cup qualifiers.