AFF Championship rescheduled again due to pandemic | Inquirer Sports
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AFF Championship rescheduled again due to pandemic

/ 10:52 PM December 07, 2020
AFF Vietnam

FILE – Vietnam’s players and Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (back centre) celebrate in front of the trophy after winning the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 championship following the AFF Suzuki Cup 2018 final football match between Vietnam and Malaysia at the My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi on December 15, 2018. (Photo by Manan VATSYAYANA / AFP)

HONG KONG – South East Asian football officials have rescheduled the regional Asean Football Federation (AFF) Championship for a second time, pushing the competition back to the end of 2021 as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The tournament, which features national teams from around the South East Asian region, was originally due to take place in November 2020 only to be moved to April and May next year.

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However, the continuing COVID-19 pandemic has forced another shift in the schedule, with the regional body now slating the competition to start on Dec. 5 with the second leg of the final to be held on Jan. 1, 2022.

“As always, our first priority is the health and safety of everyone connected with the event,” AFF president Khiev Sameth said in a statement on Monday.

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“As such, we have been monitoring COVID-19 developments, both within Asean and in the wider world, on a continuous basis.

“While there have been encouraging results in vaccine development, we are cognisant that the process of vaccine approval, as well as the practicalities of the distribution and implementation of vaccine programs across the world including Asean, will take some time.

“Given the complexities around the organization of the event (AFF Championship), and the many people and organizations that are impacted by it, the AFF believes in taking a pragmatic approach and making a considered decision early that will allow the stakeholders in the event to have enough notice to reorganize their activities – and so that planning for the end of the year can be focused around the AFF Suzuki Cup as a great occasion for football in the region as it has always been.”

The AFF has already postponed the launch of its new club competition, the Asean Club Championship, until 2022 due to a calendar tightly packed as a result of the numerous domestic and international competitions that have been rescheduled from 2020.

Vietnam is the AFF Championship holder having defeated Malaysia over two legs in the December 2018 final to claim the trophy for the second time in the competition’s 20-year history.

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