South America’s football governing body, CONMEBOL, has asked FIFA to suspend the beginning of World Cup qualifiers slated for the end of March due to coronavirus outbreak.
On Wednesday, CONMEBOL published a letter where they requested FIFA in the name of members Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. FIFA is yet to reply, according to reports.
According to CONMEBOL, the outbreak could have an impact on South American national teams that have members in Europe and if they are put in quarantine, they would have to stop playing.
The coronavirus outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), whose chief expressed his ‘deep concern’ over the ‘alarming levels of inaction’ in combating the virus spread.
There are now over 118,000 cases of COVID-19 spread across 114 countries around the world. The disease has already claimed over 4,000 lives. The WHO had classified the novel coronavirus as a global public health emergency on January 30.
Countries around the world, including the US, have already been leaning on pandemic preparedness plans to respond to the outbreaks of coronavirus.
The last time the WHO declared a pandemic was during the H1N1 outbreak in 2009, which infected nearly a quarter of the world’s population.
The WHO, however, was later criticised for raising public alarm when the virus turned out to be not very lethal. H1N1 now returns seasonally and is part of the annual vaccine preparations.