South American WC qualifiers certain for October kickoff: CONMEBOL

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Asuncion, Sep 16 (IANS) The South American 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers will begin next month despite concerns about the Covid-19 pandemic, the region’s football governing body CONMEBOL has said.

The announcement followed a video conference call involving CONMEBOL officials and FIFA President Gianni Infantino, in which the Paraguay-based entity sought guarantee that clubs would release their players, reports Xinhua news agency.

“The dates of the first matches – October 8 and 13 – were ratified at the meeting, while President Infantino expressed FIFA’s willingness for all national teams to be on equal terms,” CONMEBOL said in a statement.

The South American qualifiers had been due to begin in March but were suspended because of the global health crisis.

Latin America is one of the worst-affected regions by the pandemic, accounting for around a third of the confirmed global death toll, which exceeds 900,000.

CONMEBOL says it has imposed strict sanitary protocols for the tournament, in accordance with requirements in each of the confederation’s 10 member nations.

In the opening round of CONMEBOL qualifiers, Colombia host Venezuela, Uruguay are home to Chile, Bolivia visit Brazil, Paraguay welcome Peru and Ecuador travel to Argentina.

–IANS

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