KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC)'s executive committee has decided to reschedule the qualifying tournament of the 2022 Women's Asian Cup scheduled in India owing to the unprecedented health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tournament proper is supposed to be held in India from January 20 to February 6, 2022, while the qualifying event is currently scheduled for September 13 to 25 this year.
"In preparation for the AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022, the AFC Executive Committee also decided to provide greater flexibility in finalising the dates for the Qualifiers...," AFC said in a release.
The governing body said it has taken into consideration "the challenges that may arise from the availability of hosts, team travel arrangements, quarantine and medical measures imposed by several nations.
" The AFC Executive Committee has also approved the Women's Football Committee's recommendation to cancel next year's U-17 Women's Asian Cup Indonesia and the U-20 Women's Asian Cup Uzbekistan.
The AFC Executive Committee acknowledged the importance to prioritise the health and safety of all stakeholders in particular, the continent's youth players against the backdrop of the ongoing uncertainty and challenges caused by the current pandemic.
It was also decided that the same hosts will stage the next editions of both competitions in 2024.
Therefore, the AFC will now work with the relevant host Member Associations to finalise the competition dates to complete the Qualifiers.
The committee also approved the AFC Futsal and Beach Soccer Committee's recommendation to cancel the Women's Futsal Championship Kuwait 2020 and the U20 Futsal Asian Cup 2021.
Meanwhile, the AFC Futsal Asian Cup Kuwait 2022 Qualifiers, which was originally scheduled for October 13 to 24, 2021 has also been rescheduled to a window during April 1 to 15, 2022, with the Final competition moved from February 16 to 27 to September 25 to October 20.
Additionally, the Committee also noted the preference of host Member Associations to gain valuable international exposure, technical preparation and hosting experience by participating in the qualifying competitions despite receiving an automatic spot in the Finals.
In light of this, and to maintain fairness of the qualifying competitions, the AFC Executive Committee agreed to allow host Member Associations to participate in the Qualifiers, which will be considered as friendly matches and have no bearing when calculating the group rankings and best positioned teams among all the groups in the respective Qualifiers.