Qatar will again play host to the cream of Asian football when it hosts the leading sides from the east of the continent as they battle it out for a place in the AFC Champions League final, set to take place on 19 December 2020.
After successfully hosting the AFC Champions League West Zone tournament from 14 September to 3 October, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) asked Qatar to again provide a bio-safe environment for teams from the East Zone in order to complete their matches – which were curtailed in March by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Qatar agreed to host the matches in order to support Asia’s premier club competition and ensure it could be completed as close to the original schedule as possible.
Dato’ Windsor John, the AFC General Secretary, said:
“We are extremely grateful for the outstanding support of the QFA and are pleased that we can now build on the success of the AFC Champions League (West) while looking forward to the remaining exciting matches in Asia’s premier club competition.
“We recognise the huge amount of work undertaken by the QFA, in conjunction with the AFC, the Qatar Local Authorities and Ministries, to ensure the smooth delivery of the AFC Champions League (West) and we look forward to a similarly positive collaboration for the AFC Champions League (East)."
“Everything from the arrival of the teams, the efficient immigration process, the rigorous health screenings, hotels with biosecurity measures, to the state-of-the-art training facilities and stadiums were of the highest possible standard as the AFC insisted that the welfare and well-being of the players, officials and match officials was our top priority. Through the planning and delivery of these extremely strict and effective protocols, I am delighted that we will be able to successfully complete the AFC Champions League, despite the enormous challenges in this unprecedented year, as we promised all our stakeholders.”
Sixteen teams from six countries will take part in the East Zone tournament from 18 November to 13 December, with matches taking places in four stadiums.
The teams and officials who travel to Qatar for the tournament will adhere to a strict health and safety framework to ensure the safe participation of players, officials and members of the Local Organising Committee. During the West Zone tournament, Qatar carried out more than 7,900 COVID-19 tests in an effort to detect cases as early as possible, with the positive rate being only 1.7%.
Mansoor Al Ansari, General Secretary, Qatar Football Association, said: “We are very happy to provide a safe environment for the AFC in order to complete the AFC Champions League and look forward to hosting the leading clubs from the east of the region during November and December. Qatar knows how important football is to Asia so is pleased to be able to offer the world-class sporting infrastructure and operational health and safety expertise that exists in the country to allow for the resumption of competitive continental football once again.”
Four clubs from both China and the Korea Republic will compete in the competition, along with three from Australia, three from Japan and one each from Malaysia and Thailand.
All team members and visitors will be tested upon arrival and throughout the tournament, while all venues will be disinfected regularly, including training and media facilities. Medical staff will be stationed in stadiums throughout the competition to ensure all health and safety are strictly followed.
Source: QFA & AFC
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