OFC’s Executive Committee has agreed to cancel the OFC Nations Cup 2020.
The Qualifying Stage event that was scheduled to take place in the Cook Islands in March was previously postponed and the final stage was due to take place in New Zealand in June.
The decision was made in light of the complexities posed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
OFC’s 11 Member Associations have experienced challenging operating conditions recently and many of these countries are in lockdown.
There are also obstacles regarding international travel that makes the main tournament unplayable in the coming months and teams would not be able to adequately prepare.
The Nations Cup will not be moved to a new window as the priority for OFC is to ensure the FIFA World Cup qualifying process can begin later this year and these matches must take place in the FIFA International Match Calendar.
OFC will remain in close contact with FIFA around how the schedule may look for future FIFA International Match Calendar dates.
OFC is speaking regularly with all stakeholders within the region, including the 11 Member Associations, about other OFC tournaments that lead to qualification for FIFA events – such as the OFC Champions League and age-group events.
OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo said the cancellation of the Nations Cup was a disappointing reality of the COVID-19 situation.
“While the Nations Cup is the flagship tournament for men’s football in OFC, the health and safety of the football community is our top priority,” Castillo said.
“With that in mind, it was only fair that our Executive Committee came to this conclusion as we continue our fight to stop the spread of coronavirus.”
OFC’s competitions department will continue to assess the tournament schedule for the rest of the year.
OFC announced on March 9 that all OFC football activities across the Pacific would be suspended until at least May 6.
This put a handful of OFC tournaments on hold, including the Champions League and the rescheduled OFC U-17 Women’s Championship.
The coronavirus situation remains fluid and OFC will continue to liaise with the football community around when any future tournaments may be played.
There is no firm date on when OFC events in the Pacific will return.
“We all want football to return as soon as possible but we will only do so when it is safe for everybody involved,” Castillo said.
“OFC remains committed to helping stop the spread of coronavirus.”
Feature Pic: All Whites goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic makes a save during the Nations Cup final in 2016. Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek