Mumbai: The Asian Football Confederation on Monday confirmed that India were forced to withdraw from the AFC Women’s Asian Cup 2022 tournament after a spurt of COVID-19 cases in the camp.
With the withdrawal of India women’s football team, all their matches remain canceled and with that, the hopes of qualifying for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand have also diminished.
A day after it failed to field a team against Chinese Taipei, the AFC issued a statement confirming that India “is considered to have withdrawn” from the tournament as per the guidelines.
According to AFC statement, following the cancellation of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022™ Group A match between Chinese Taipei and India, which was scheduled to take place at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on January 23, India is considered to have withdrawn from the competition in accordance with Article 4.1 of the ‘Special Rules Applicable to AFC Competitions during the COVID-19 pandemic’.
“All matches of India are now cancelled and considered null and void. Only three teams – China PR, Chinese Taipei and Islamic Republic of Iran – will now be participating in Group A of the Competition. To avoid any possible disparity in the final comparison between all third-placed teams, the results of the matches in Group B and C between the first, second and third-placed teams against the fourth-placed teams will not be counted,” the AFC said.
Based on the recent announcement by the Asian Football Confederation, it is unfortunate that the Indian Women’s Football Team were unable to register the required minimum of 13 players for their Group A match against Chinese Taipei in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup India 2022, and were therefore unable to participate in the match.
AIFF President Mr. Praful Patel in his statement said: “We are as disappointed as probably the entire nation would be right now with this unwarranted situation. However, the players’ health and well-being are of paramount importance to us, and it cannot be compromised under any circumstances. I wish all the infected players and team officials a swift and full recovery. They will be well supported by the AIFF and AFC.”
“Our support for the Blue Tigresses will continue, and we will work to ensure that our players come back stronger. The AIFF also thanks the fans and is grateful for their continuous support in the joint endeavour to take Indian Football Forward Together,” the AIFF President averred.
“The team is heartbroken, and I request all to respect their feelings and sentiments. I am proud of the great promise the team showed in their first match, and am confident that they will prove their mettle in the near future,” Mr. Patel, also a FIFA council member stated. “This is not the end of the world. The promise on display in the first match against IR Iran was there for all to see, and am confident they will bounce back from this temporary setback.”
“Unfortunately, this happened to us despite the best measures put in place, and it is sheer bad luck that it happened to us. Let there be no fingers pointed at any. We need to understand this is a pandemic situation, and no bubble is foolproof around the world.”
Mr. Patel, also thanked the fans for their “continuous support.”
“The AIFF also thanks the fans and is grateful for their continuous support in the joint effort to take Indian Football Forward Together.”