The Football Federation of Sri Lanka (FFSL) announced on its social media page that FIFA has officially cancelled Team Macau’s away match in the Indian Ocean island nation, which was originally scheduled for 6 p.m. this evening, Macau time.
The match is the second leg of the first-round qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asian Cup tournaments, which will be held in Qatar and mainland China respectively. Macau beat Sri Lanka by 1-0 in the home match.
A football official familiar with international rules told the Times that a cancelation prior to the match is possible, provided that the relevant football association submits an official application to their regional governing body, which in this case is the Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
The official noted that there have been other similar situations before, where matches were played between countries that had no diplomatic ties. Those matches were played as scheduled without being relocated elsewhere.
Yesterday afternoon, the FFSL told a press conference that it had not received communications regarding any cancelation from FIFA or the AFC, or a withdrawal from the game from the Macau Football Association (MFA). The Sri Lankan side said they were still expecting Team Macau.
Hours later, the FFSL posted the online announcement about “the FIFA decision”.
About two dozen Team Macau players have voluntarily signed a waiver, explaining that they are willing to be responsible for the risks that might incur from the trip. Earlier, they threatened that they would never represent Team Macau again if the MFA did not change its mind.
Nonetheless, the MFA remains rigid in its stance.
Leong Ka Heng, Team Macau member and footballer at a Hong Kong club, said, after the Sri Lankan announcement, that he won’t be representing Team Macau in the near future.
The current situation will not only eliminate Macau from the joint qualifiers, but will also entail possible punishment for the team. Both FIFA and AFC have rules governing these kinds of situations.
Last Saturday, the MFA announced locally that it had decided not to bring the team to the island country, where a state of emergency is still in place from the aftermath of terror attacks that occurred over Easter.
The country has not recorded any terror attack since then. The football governing bodies FIFA and AFC have approved the security measures proposed by Sri Lanka. Staff reporter