THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC HAS now affected the most anticipated football event scheduled to take place in India this year.
The FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup, set to begin in November this year, has been postponed as the world continues to grapple with the spread of COVID-19.
After the national team matches stretching till June, the rest of the I-League season, the IPL and the Olympics, this is the latest major sporting event to be pushed back; but it's also the farthest, having originally been scheduled to take place from 2nd November till 21st November.
The decision was announced by FIFA earlier today. This step was taken by the global football body after the qualifiers for the tournament for Europe (UEFA), Africa (CAF), the Americas (CONCACAF & CONMEBOL) and Oceaania (OFC) were brought to a halt.
So far, only Asia (AFC) have completed the qualifying process, with Japan and North Korea making it to the main tournament along with India who are set to debut as hosts.
It's due to the qualifying tournaments, many of which are continental championships, not taking place, that FIFA have been forced to postpone the U-17 WWC so far ahead of time, as the confederations are expected to take a good few months to complete those tournaments once things start returning to normal and football gets back underway.
The All India Football Federation has been grooming a batch of players for this showpiece competition for almost a year now. But with the postponement, there are now concerns whether all those efforts will be derailed due to many of the players going over the age limit by the time the competition takes place.
However, to mitigate that, FIFA may decide to keep the original cut-off date for player eligibility intact so that the existing batch of players don't lose out on their opportunity to play in the world stage, effectively turning it into an U-18 event.