SAFF events in doubt | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 04, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 04, 2020

SAFF events in doubt

With just under six months left till the scheduled start of the Bangabandhu SAFF Championship in Dhaka, the South Asian Football Federation is having doubts about whether it can hold the seven-nation event due to the coronavirus pandmeic.

In a bid to contain the spread of Covid-19, the domestic sporting competitions in all South Asian nations have been postponed for indefinite period while AFC and FIFA have also halted their competitions.

In these circumstances, organisers are having to rethink the fate of the SAFF Championship, scheduled for September 19 to 30 in Dhaka, which had earlier hosted the regional football championship in 2003 and 2009.

"There is no point of making any comment at the moment. If the situation improves, then the SAFF secretariat will hold the championship as scheduled in September, subject to avoiding clash with World Cup Qualifiers which have been suspended," SAFF general secretary Anwarul Haque Helal told The Daily Star yesterday.

Helal informed that the SAFF secretariat was supposed to hold an executive committee meeting in the latter part of April, but the meeting has been cancelled following recommendations from SAFF president Kazi Salahuddin, who did not want to put anyone involved at risk.

"If our announced date clashes with FIFA calendar, we will have to reschedule the fixtures because as one knows when the situation will improve and when will FIFA resume its World Cup qualifiers," said Helal.

"If everything comes under control and sporting activities resume in different countries, we won't have any problem holding the championship. But if we see one or two countries still struggling with coronavirus, it will not be possible to hold the championship by excluding any participation nation," said the veteran organiser, who was once general secretary of the Bangladesh Football Federation.

The SAFF U-15 Boys' Championship is scheduled to take place in August, followed by SAFF U-15 Girls' championship in September and SAFF U-18 Girls' Championship in October.

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