India-China Taipei Asian Cup match canceled after 12 home team players test positive for COVID

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No bubble is fully proven in the world: AIFF President Patel

Apart from the COVID cases, two players were also downed by injuries which prevented India from fielding a team as two of their footballers were already out of action after being infected with the virus a few days ago. .

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said that in view of the situation, Article 4.1 of the tournament rules comes into effect, which clearly states that if a team does not assemble for a match, they will be “considered as having withdrawn from the relevant competition.”

Indian Football Federation (AIFF) President Praful Patel also issued a statement expressing his sadness at the turn of events but surprisingly did not clarify the team’s tournament status.

“We are as disappointed as the entire nation probably would be right now with this unwarranted situation,” he said.

“However, the health and well-being of the players is of paramount importance to us, and in no way can it be compromised. I wish all infected players and team officials a speedy and full recovery. They will be well supported by the AIFF and AFC.”

India failed to name the required minimum of 13 players for the Group A tie against Chinese Taipei ahead of the game and there was no sign of the team on the pitch even as the rivals warmed up . India were then due to face China in their final group game on Wednesday, but that is unlikely to happen now as the team do not have enough players to field an XI.

Knockouts start from January 30, which makes it almost impossible for the tournament organizers to change the schedule. “…this happened to us despite having the best measures in place, and it was pure bad luck that this happened to us. Let no finger be pointed. We have to understand that this is a pandemic situation, and no bubble is infallible around the world,” Patel said in his statement which focused on the player’s feelings but offered no clear words on how the team is placed.

In accordance with article 4.1 of the “Special rules applicable to AFC competitions during the COVID-19 pandemic”, “If a participating team/participating club has less than thirteen (13) participating players (including one
[1]
goalkeeper) available for a match for any reason (whether or not related to COVID-19), the participating team/participating club concerned will not be able to participate in the match.

“That Participating Team/Participating Club will be liable if the Match does not take place and will be deemed to have withdrawn from the relevant Competition. The Participating Team/Participating Club concerned and its Affiliated Member Association shall be subject to the provisions of the Regulations. of the competition regarding the consequences of withdrawal, if any.”

The AFC said the tournament will continue to run as scheduled, with the group winners, runners-up and the two best third-placed teams advancing to the quarter-finals.

“The matter of the India-Chinese Taipei match will now be referred to the relevant AFC committee in accordance with applicable regulations,” he said.

Article 4.1 which determines the outcome of a match which cannot be played, further states: “In exceptional circumstances and provided that any postponement does not affect the match schedule determined by the General Secretariat of the AFC, the AFC Competitions Committee (or any sub-committee performing functions on its behalf) may grant an exception to the above and permit the relevant match to be rescheduled.”

India were held to a goalless draw by Iran when they opened the tournament a few days ago and there were two COVID cases in the squad ahead of that game. It remains to be seen how Iran is impacted by the outbreak in the Indian camp, having been in close contact with the side.

The AFC said its medical team will continue to work closely with the local organizing committee and the AIFF to prioritize the health and well-being of teams, officials and stakeholders. “Appropriate medical care is being provided to infected players.”

COVID-19 had breached the Indian team’s biosecurity bubble on Wednesday before its tournament opened with two players testing positive for the virus, forcing organizers to transfer them to a medical facility to isolate them.

All semi-finalists in the current tournament will qualify directly for the 2023 FIFA World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Two other teams from the remaining four quarter-finalists will also earn direct World Cup berths if Australia make it to the semi-finals of that tournament, which is highly likely. This means that even teams that lose in the quarter-finals can qualify directly for the World Cup if they win the AFC Asian Cup play-offs on February 2 and 4.

The two losing quarter-finalists will participate in the intercontinental play-offs.

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