FIFA Reschedules Futsal World Cup
FIFA announced this week that they have postponed the 2020 Futsal World Cup by a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The tournament will now take place from September 12-October 3rd 2021 in Lithuania. The only change so far is that the tournament duration will be reduced by one day.
FIFA had considered holding the championship this December and earlier next year but after careful assessment and speaking with the Lithuanian Football Federation (LFF) it was decided that a year delay would offer the least amount of hurdles to put on the worlds preeminent competition for national teams.
A major factor, beyond the obvious worldwide health situation, is that basketball is the most popular sport in Lithuania and hosting it during winter or spring would lead to scheduling conflicts with the three arenas that are slated to host the tournament.
The domestic basketball league, an Olympic Basketball qualifying tournament, and EuroLeague Basketball are all in need of Lithuania’s top playing venues. In addition, the Olympic Games are slated for July 2021 and it was decided that it is a better decision for futsal not to compete directly with any other international events so that the spotlight is entirely focused on the sport.
The delay will also allow for more infrastructure planning including possible renovations for match and practice facilities. Arena and hotel contracts will have to renegotiated, with the local organizing committee responsible for the venues while FIFA deals with the accommodations.
The fact that qualification for the World Cup has not yet been completed was also a significant factor in the delay as there are still 11 places remaining for the 24 team competition.
The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) qualifying tournament had already been postponed from this past February to August, and may even be moved again depending on the Covid-19 situation.
Canada’s hopes to qualify for their first FIFA Futsal competition in over 30 years will have to wait as CONCACAF’s qualification event that was slated for May 1-10th in Guatemala has been placed on hold with no future dates being announced.
UEFA also paused the pair of playoffs between Croatia/Czech Republic and Serbia/Finland that will determine the final two nations from its region that will qualify for the tournament.
Argentina are defending world champions having defeated Russia 5-4 in Colombia at the 2016 World Cup.