European champions Chelsea will now have to wait till 2022 to participate in the prestigious tournament after Japan announced her inability to welcome international fans due to the pandemic.
According to the Mirror, a final decision on whether the game should be postponed to next year is expected to be made at FIFA’s next council meeting on October 20.
Announcing their decision to pull out, the Japanese FA released a statement which read:
“The FIFA Club World Cup will not be held in Japan in December 2021 as a result of discussions between FIFA and the Japan Football Association (JFA) regarding the status of coronavirus infections and the current conditions for holding it.
“The FIFA Club World Cup was positioned as part of the JFA 100th Anniversary Commemorative Project, but at this point, it is difficult to predict the status of the coronavirus infections at the end of the year.
“There are various restrictions, such as restrictions on the number of spectators. We have come to the conclusion that it is very difficult to hold the event in the midst of it.”
South Africa, Qatar and Brazil are among the nations reported to be keen on taking the place of Japan, who were set to host the tournament for the first time before they were forced to pull out due to the pandemic.
Last week, the South African FA president, Danny Jordaan, revealed that they were facing some difficulties in their bid to take the place of Japan as hosts.
Speaking to Soccer Laduma, Jordaan said: “The meeting has been postponed to Monday. I think the issues are clear; it’s Covid because we are red-listed by the UK government, which means no one can really travel from there to South Africa.”
“Another issue is the low vaccinations rate and the fact that we still don’t have spectators in the stadium – FIFA has said, “go and solve this problem and then come talk to us”, so that is a big issue in our way.
“They are not sporting issues; there’s nothing we can do (government makes the decision). The tournament is in December, and that is why we have to meet with the government to understand the timelines.
“What is encouraging is that they’ve said we are at the end of the third wave. Football in Africa, under Covid conditions, is quite different to Europe – they are almost back to normal.”