Coronavirus: FIFA recommends postponing all international matches through June

FIFA has recommended postponing international matches through June. (Ruben Sprich/Reuters)

Global soccer’s governing body recommended on Friday the postponement of all men’s and women’s international matches scheduled for June because of the Coronavirus pandemic, FIFA said following a meeting of its COVID-19 working group.

Assuming that guidance is heeded by regional bodies under FIFA — and it would be shocking if it wasn’t — the directive would directly impact (among other competitions) the men’s national teams of the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras, who were all set to take part in CONCACAF’s Nations League semis and final this summer in Texas.

Indeed, CONCACAF officially suspended the Nations League’s final four, which was to be played June 4 and 7, later Friday:

Higher-profile international tournaments originally scheduled for June had already been moved, including Euro 2020 and the Copa America, South America’s regional championship. Both of those events were rescheduled for 2021, as was the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, which was set to begin in July. The Oceania Football Confederation’s Nations Cup would also be moved or cancelled under FIFA’s recommendation.

FIFA’s working group also stated its preference for the men’s Olympic football tournament to retain the eligibility criteria originally planned for Tokyo 2020. Under the current rules, players born on or after Jan, 1 1997 would be allowed to participate in the Games in Japan, with an exception made for up to three overage players per team. Keeping that cutoff date in place would allow players who would’ve been in their final year of age-eligibility this summer to play in 2021 without taking up an overage spot.

Friday’s news comes just hours after the planet’s most popular soccer circuit, the English Premier League, backed off its early May target to resume its 2019-20 season. Following its own emergency meeting, the Premier League announced that it would only return to action “when it’s safe and appropriate to do so.”