Auckland City FC have withdrawn from next month’s Club World Cup due to the COVID-19 pandemic and quarantine measures required by New Zealand’s authorities, world football’s governing body FIFA said.
The 2020 edition of the tournament, which was originally scheduled for December, is now being held from Feb. 1-11 in Qatar and brings together continental champions from across the world.
“Despite FIFA’s regular exchanges with the club, New Zealand Football and the OFC in recent days, the requirements of the New Zealand authorities in relation to isolation and quarantine go beyond FIFA’s remit and, therefore, it was not possible to reach a solution,” it said in a statement.
Auckland City were originally scheduled to play Qatari side Al Duhail, who will now enter the competition in the second round.
The reigning national premiership champions have made a record nine Club World Cup appearances, including a memorable third place finish in 2014.
The tournament will be played with Al-Duhail, Al Ahly, Bayern Munich, Ulsan Hyundai, Tigres UANL and the winners of the CONMEBOL Libertadores final between Brazilian sides Palmeiras and Santos, which is scheduled for Jan. 30.
The draw to finalise the pairings will be held on Jan. 19 in Zurich.