March 12, 2020 / 9:40 PM / a month ago

FIFA postpones South American World Cup qualifiers over coronavirus

The logo of FIFA is seen in front of its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland September 26, 2017. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - The world soccer governing body FIFA has postponed South American qualifying matches for the 2022 Qatar World Cup after a request from the region’s football federation amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus.

FIFA said in a letter to the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), which the federation tweeted, that it would seek to reschedule the 10 matches due to take place between March 23 and 31.

A number of Latin America’s top football stars play for European teams in countries that have seen significant cases of the virus and would have faced quarantines on their return to their home countries. [nL1N2B321G]

FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura told her counterpart at CONMEBOL, Jose Astigarraga, that the health and safety of those involved in the World Cup was her primary concern.

“We will continue to work with and consult you and your team to be able to find possible dates in which these matches can be played, something which will require... solutions that take into account the unique and fast-changing nature of this exceptional situation,” she wrote in the letter.

Reporting by Javier Leira; writing by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Howard Goller and Dan Grebler

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