Auckland City have withdrawn from next month’s FIFA Club World Cup in Qatar, the world governing body FIFA said on Friday.
FIFA said the withdrawal was as a result of strict coronavirus regulations in the football club’s home country of New Zealand.
FIFA said it was informed by the club that they could not play “in (the) light of the COVID-19 pandemic and related quarantine measures required by the New Zealand authorities.
“In spite of FIFA’s regular exchanges with the club, New Zealand Football and the (Oceania confederation) OFC in recent days, the requirements of the New Zealand authorities in relation to isolation and quarantine go beyond FIFA’s remit and, therefore, it was not possible to reach a solution.”
Auckland City were to be the Oceania representatives at the tournament.
It is an event which brings together the winners of the continental tournaments from the six FIFA confederations and one team from the host nation.
Qatar champions Al-Duhail, who would have started the Feb. 1 to Feb. 11 tournament with a play-off against Auckland City, now advance straight into a quarter-final.
This also means that the event now starts Feb. 4.
The other teams include European champions Bayern Munich of Germany, African champions Al Ahly of Egypt, Asian winners Ulsan Hyundai of South Korea and CONCACAF champs Tigres UANL of Mexico.
The remaining team are the South American Copa Libertadores winners, which will be determined on Jan. 30 between Brazilian clubs Santos and Palmeiras.
Bayern Munich and the South American representatives have a bye into the semi-finals.
The tournament draw is set for Tuesday and FIFA has pledged a strict hygiene concept.
“FIFA together with the Qatari authorities will implement a comprehensive medical and security protocol, providing the safeguards required to protect the health and safety of everyone involved in the competition,” FIFA said.(dpa/NAN)