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OFC confirms schedule changes

OFC has confirmed a number of changes for the football calendar. Photo Credit: OFC Media via Phototek

OFC is proactively adapting its competitions strategy to tackle the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic with a strong focus on its long-term goals.

In a bid to provide our Member Associations with more meaningful matches, various short and long-term solutions are currently being worked on, including the possibility of adding new competitions in 2023 and 2024 for both senior male and female national teams.

This week, OFC’s Executive Committee agreed to reschedule the FIFA World Cup 2022 qualifying process that was set to begin in the FIFA International Match Calendar window in June as the proposed format is no longer achievable in that timeframe.

One potential option is to organise a competition in January 2022, keeping the FIFA International Match Calendar dates of March 21-29 available for preparation matches ahead of the Intercontinental Playoff that will take place in June 2022.

OFC will continue to work with FIFA and our Member Associations around future dates and a preferred format for the qualifying process.

The OFC Women’s Nations Cup, that was scheduled to be played in January-February 2022, has been pushed back to June-July 2022.

This year’s OFC Champions League has been postponed with the objective to play the competition before October 31 so Oceania can provide a representative for this year’s FIFA Club World Cup.

The OFC Executive Committee mandated the General Secretariat to investigate various options, including the possibility of a single, centralised tournament that would take place in Fiji in October.

The OFC General Secretariat will now work on these options and collaborate with the Fiji Football Association and the Fijian Government.

The Qualifying Stage for the OFC Champions League 2022 has been moved to the start of next year.

The OFC Beach Soccer Nations Cup 2021 has also been postponed and a new date will be confirmed following consultation with FIFA.

This year’s OFC U-19 Women’s Championship and OFC U-16 Women’s Championship tournaments have been postponed, pending FIFA’s confirmation of dates for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup 2022 and the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup 2022.

The new competition dates will be proposed once confirmation is received from FIFA.

The U-19 tournament host is yet to be confirmed, while the U-16 event will be played in Tahiti.

The OFC Futsal Invitational 2021 will be rescheduled for 2022.

Finally, the OFC Executive Committee agreed to cancel this year’s OFC U-17 Championship and U-20 Championship.

Originally, these events were qualifiers for the FIFA U-17 World Cup that was meant to be held in Peru in October and the FIFA U-20 World Cup that was set for Indonesia in May-June.

But in December, FIFA cancelled both the U-17 and U-20 World Cups for this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The original hosts will be retained and Samoa will hold the OFC U-19 Championship 2022, while Fiji will stage the OFC U-16 Championship 2022.

OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo acknowledged it was a hard decision to cancel these events but all options were explored.

“These tournaments are career highlights for many of our young players so we understand how disappointing it must be for everyone to see them cancelled,” Castillo said.

“However, we are adopting a proactive approach to make sure that from 2022 we will increase the number of competitions for men and women to achieve our long-term strategic goals of qualifying two teams for the men’s and women’s FIFA World Cups in 2026 and 2027”

“As another way to provide development opportunities to the players in our region, we are committed to looking at all the possible options to hold our U-15 Boy’s Centre of Excellence and Youth Development tournaments this year.”

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