Kuala Lumpur, Feb 4 (IANS) AFC Champions League group stage matches involving Chinese clubs in the first three match days have been postponed due to concerns over the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Tuesday.
In a statement following an emergency meeting held at the AFC headquarters here, the Asian football governing body said matches involving clubs from China in February and March will be rescheduled in April and May. The East Zone Round of 16 matches is proposed for June 16 and 17 with the return leg on June 23 or 24, Xinhua news reported.
The meeting, attended by representatives of football associations, leagues and clubs, was called in response to the impact on the AFC Champions League East of the coronavirus outbreak, which has been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO), AFC said.
This year’s AFC Champions League will kick off next week.
AFC announced last week that the original match schedule was altered so that the Chinese clubs could play away in the first three match days.
The six matches involving Chinese clubs in the first three match days were to be played in Australia, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and Malaysia, respectively. Some governments, including Australia, have introduced restrictions which make it impossible for Chinese clubs to travel to play the rescheduled matches.
So far, a match on Day 2 on February 18 between Chiangrai United and Beijing Guoan in Thailand may go ahead as planned but only because Beijing Guoan is currently in camp in South Korea and may not need quarantine measures, the AFC said.
Chiangrai United have stressed that they will continue to work closely with the Thai government and medical officials.