Coronavirus: AFC postpones Champions League games in West Asia

Asian Football Confederation has asked member associations to produce plans to play remaining matches before round of 16

The Asian Football Confederation has postponed all Asian Champions League matches in West Asia, as football on the continent continues to be impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

Following emergency talks in Doha and Dubai on Sunday, the AFC said group matches in the West Asia zone would be suspended while officials evaluate a "series of proposals" to complete the pool stage.

"All matches in AFC Champions League match day three were postponed in the West zone," the AFC said.

"The AFC has now asked for the cooperation of the member associations in producing a plan by which the remaining matches can be played before the round of 16."

The UAE is represented in this year's competition by last season's champions Sharjah, Shabab Al Ahli Dubai, Al Wahda and Al Ain. All four of their third group matches, supposed to take place last week, had already been postponed following a meeting of East Zone member associations in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month.

Iran also has four teams in Asia's premier club competition, while Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Uzbekistan and Qatar, the 2022 World Cup hosts, are also involved.

The tournament's East zone, kept separate from the West until the final, last week moved back the start of its knock-out rounds to August. China, South Korea and Japan, whose domestic leagues are on hold over the virus, all have teams in the competition.

The West zone's quarter-finals will be moved to September to accommodate the extended group phase, and the two-legged semi-finals will be on October 14, 15, 28 and 29. The final remains on November 22 (East) and 28 (West).

"As with the East Zone, the MAs [member associations] provided some proposals which will now be considered by the AFC and the various stakeholders, including commercial partners," the AFC statement said.

"The AFC will then make a further statement on any developments and any potential new schedule in due course."

This month's Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup could also be postponed, Fifa warned last week after talks with the AFC, as the deadly outbreak wreaks havoc with the sporting calendar.

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