Kuala Lumpur: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) COVID-19 Sub Committee for AFC Champions League West decided that Al Wahda, from the United Arab Emirates, shall be considered to have withdrawn from the competition having failed to arrive in Doha, Qatar ahead of their remaining Group A matches.
The Sub Committee decided that the circumstances surrounding the club’s failure to arrive constituted an event of Force Majeure and that the matches played by Al Wahda in the AFC Champions League (West) shall be considered ‘null and void’. For the avoidance of doubt, no points or goals from the previous matches will be considered in determining the final group rankings.
Under the AFC Match Operations Protocol During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the clubs were to arrive in Doha a minimum of four days before their match but on September 9, 2020 Al Wahda informed the AFC that they were unable to travel because of positive COVID-19 tests.
The club was placed under quarantine by the UAE Authorities and Al Wahda and the United Arab Emirates Football Association (UAE FA) requested the matches be postponed. However, because the preparations were advanced and other teams had arrived, this was not possible.
Paragraph 4.1 of the Special Rules Applicable to AFC Competitions During the COVID-19 Pandemic states that: “In the case a Participating Team/Participating Club cannot travel to the host country and/or venue of a Match due to any travel or other restriction relating to COVID-19, the Participating Team/Participating Club shall be considered to have withdrawn from the relevant Competition.
“The relevant Participating Team/Participating Club and its affiliated Member Association shall be subject to the provisions of the relevant competition regulations, as applicable.”
The Sub Committee sympathised with the situation that Al Wahda found themselves in and agreed that the quarantine and travel restrictions experienced by Al Wahda constituted an event of Force Majeure in accordance with paragraphs 6.4 and 71 of the AFC Competition regulations.