SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia will not attempt to put on World Cup qualifiers during the international windows in March and June and will instead look to set up other fixtures for the Socceroos, Football Federation Australia (FFA) said on Tuesday.
FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) postponed Asian World Cup qualifying matches in March and June on Monday because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The governing bodies said, however, that matches could still go ahead if it was mutually agreed by the member associations with certain safety standards met.
Sporting fixtures in Australia are proceeding without interruption but FFA said they would not try and stage their home fixtures against Kuwait, Taiwan and Jordan.
“Given FFA’s intent to put the health and welfare of all players, coaches, staff, and fans first, FFA will not to pursue qualification matches in March or June 2020,” the federation said in a statement.
“(We) will instead consider possible alternate activity options for the Socceroos in the respective windows over the coming days and weeks.”
Australia’s fourth qualifier over the two international windows was an away match against Nepal on March 31.
While the AFC has more than two years to complete the last two rounds of qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the Socceroos might experience some fixture congestion if the matches are rearranged for later this year.
Australia are playing as a guest team at this year’s Copa America in Argentina and Colombia from June 12 to July 12, while coach Graham Arnold will guide the under-23 side at the Tokyo Olympics.
The coronavirus epidemic has killed about 3,900 people around the world, including three in Australia.
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Robert Birsel