By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
In addition to the previous decisions by the FIFA Council, the Bureau of the Council has unanimously approved a set of further changes to the men’s and women’s international match calendars in response to the global disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which persists in most parts of the world.
These changes follow a thorough consultation process with the confederations and football stakeholders. This process resulted in proposals via the FIFA-Confederations COVID-19 Working Group that maintain the previously agreed principle that a tailor-made and flexible approach between confederations is required, reflecting the varied circumstances of the pandemic across the world. The main changes are the following:
Men’s international match calendar
To replace the window from 31 August to 8 September 2020 with a window from 24 January to 1 February 2022 for all confederations except UEFA. This means that there is no mandatory release of players for member associations from these confederations in September 2020;
To include the new period of January 2022 for the CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), with the exact dates to be determined at a later stage; and to include the new dates of the Concacaf Gold Cup 2021 (preliminary rounds from 2 to 6 July 2021 and final tournament from 10 July to 1 August 2021) with a mandatory release starting on 28 June 2021.
Women’s international match calendar
To replace the dates for the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament, originally scheduled from 22 July to 7 August 2020, with new dates of 21 July
To 6 August 2021; to finalise the dates of the originally scheduled Type I window in June-July 2021 as 7 to 15 June 2021;
To cancel the existing window of 14 to 22 September 2020 for all confederations except UEFA;
To include alongside the existing Type I window from 13 to 21 September 2021, an alternative option of a Type III window from 13 to 25 September 2021 for all confederations except UEFA;
To finalise the dates of the existing Type II window in June-July 2021 as 7 to 16 June 2021 for all confederations except UEFA;
To remove the current blocked period for the Women’s AFCON from 23 November to 20 December 2020; and to include UEFA in the blocked period from 4 July to 7 August 2022.
The FIFA-Confederations COVID-19 Working Group will continue to monitor the situation in each confederation and if required make additional proposals to the FIFA Council.