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SAmerica soccer body postpones World Cup qualifiers in March

March 6, 2021 GMT

SAO PAULO (AP) — Two rounds of South American World Cup qualifiers scheduled for the end of March were postponed on Saturday following opposition from European clubs about allowing their players to travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

South American soccer body CONMEBOL tweeted that its council made the decision based on “the impossibility of having all South American players” available for the games.

“FIFA will analyze the rescheduling of the fixtures, in coordination with CONMEBOL and its members,” CONMEBOL said.

In a statement, FIFA said the decision to postpone was reached after “discussions with our South American Member Associations in conjunction with CONMEBOL and taking into consideration the existing volatility around travel and quarantine restrictions.”

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CONMEBOL had said on Friday that FIFA was “looking for a solution to the stalemate” after Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola became the latest manager to reveal he wouldn’t let his players travel to international matches this month if they have to quarantine on their return.

“They are not going to fly, for sure,” Guardiola said. “It makes no sense when players go to the national team and come back and (for) 10 days cannot play.”

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp also had spoken out against letting his South American players travel for the games.

Colombia’s health minister has said it was unlikely the country will reopen its borders to flights coming from Brazil, which is experiencing a second wave of the virus. Colombia was scheduled to host Brazil in a World Cup qualifier on March 26 in Barranquilla.

“To open that possibility (of a flight from Brazil) would be very worrying,” minister Fernando Ruiz Gómez said.

Brazilian media had previously reported national coach Tite was considering a list that includes only players who do not need to return to Europe for the two rounds of World Cup qualifying against Colombia and Argentina.

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