India’s group stage game against Chinese Taipei in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 which was supposed to be played at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai has been called off after an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Indian camp.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has announced earlier today after the Indian team didn’t show up in the stadium before the scheduled kick-off time.
The official announcement from the Asian Football Federation (AFC)
Statements from the AFC Press Release
“Following several positive cases of COVID-19, India failed to name the required minimum of 13 players for the Group A match against Chinese Taipei. In accordance with Article 4.1 of the ‘Special Rules Applicable to AFC Competitions during the COVID-19 pandemic’ (Special Rules), India was therefore unable to participate in the match and the full provisions of Article 4.1 will apply.”
Below is the AFC’s Article 4.1 from the ‘Special Rules Applicable to AFC Competitions during the COVID-19 pandemic’ in full detail.
Further, the inability of India to participate in the match also triggers Article 6 of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022™ regulations. Below it is described in detail.
Asia’s governing football body stated that India’s withdrawal from the competition amid the current circumstances will have no effect on the competition’s continuity.
“The AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022™ will continue to be played as scheduled with the Group winners, runners-up, and the two best third-placed teams qualifying to the Quarter-finals. The matter will now be referred to the relevant AFC Committee(s) in accordance with the applicable regulations.”
“The AFC has maintained an open line of communication with the teams and participating Member Associations throughout the competition to deal with all their concerns and inquiries in a timely manner,” they added.
They have come ahead to give their all support to the remaining 11 teams from the safety standards.
“The AFC Medical Team continues to work closely with the Local Organising Committee and the AIFF to prioritize the health and wellbeing of the teams, officials, and stakeholders. Appropriate medical care is being provided to the infected players and the AFC wishes them a full and speedy recovery.”
It was a difficult day for not just Indian football, but Asian football as a whole. The Blue Tigresses had traveled to 6 different countries in 2021 for exposure tours to prepare for the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022 which included exposure tours to Brazil, Sweden, Turkey, Uzbekistan, Bahrain, and UAE.
The women have also been in preparatory camps under Dennerby since August 2021 in Jamshedpur, and have been training in Kochi since the first week of December 2021. The team landed in Mumbai on January 13, 2022, and started training the next day onwards.
All India Football Federation (AIFF) President Mr. Praful Patel was vocal and shared his verdict on this matter. Below are some of his statements (via Twitter)
“We are as disappointed as probably the entire nation would be right now with this unwarranted situation. However, the players’ health and well-being are of paramount importance to us, and they cannot be compromised under any circumstances.” Praful Patel declared.
“I wish all the infected players and team officials a swift and full recovery. They will be well supported by the AIFF and AFC.” he expressed.
“Our support for the Blue Tigresses will continue, and we will work to ensure that our players come back stronger. The AIFF also thanks the fans and is grateful for their continuous support in the joint endeavor to take Indian Football Forward Together,” the AIFF President averred.
“The team is heartbroken, and I request all to respect their feelings and sentiments. I am proud of the great promise the team showed in their first match, and am confident that they will prove their mettle in the near future,” Mr. Patel, also a FIFA council member stated.
“This is not the end of the world. The promise on display in the first match against IR Iran was there for all to see, and am confident they will bounce back from this temporary setback,” said Praful.
“Unfortunately, this happened to us despite the best measures put in place, and it is sheer bad luck that it happened to us. Let there be no fingers pointed at any. We need to understand this is a pandemic situation, and no bubble is foolproof around the world,” he concluded.
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