The COVID-19 pandemic impacted many leagues and tournaments around the world this year and has now forced Concacaf to push back its start date for World Cup Qualifying.
Concacaf announced Tuesday that qualifying matches for the 2022 FIFA World Cup will kick off in March 2021. The schedule was originally scheduled to begin in Oct. or Nov. 2020 but due to the pandemic continuing to impact all around the world, Concacaf and FIFA agreed on the change.
“Many parts of the region continue to have very challenging public health situations, and that has been a key factor in this decision,” Concacaf said in a statement. “Additionally, several countries across the confederation have travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, which would make international football involving 30 national teams extremely difficult.”
Among the teams scheduled to feature in the qualifying round is Canada, Trinidad & Tobago, Curacao, Panama, and Cuba.
The U.S. Men’s National Team was scheduled to begin play in the octagonal final round in June 2021, but due to the movement of the qualifying round, its matches will likely take place in the Fall. Gregg Berhalter’s team will also take part in the 2021 Gold Cup, currently scheduled to begin in June.
Berhalter’s squad last took the field on Feb. 1, 2020 in a 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica in California. The pandemic forced the cancellation of March friendlies at both Wales and the Netherlands, in which U.S. Soccer has yet to announce any friendlies for this Fall.
2021 will certainly be a busy year for international play with the Tokyo Olympics, European Championships, World Cup Qualifying, and the Concacaf Gold Cup all scheduled to take place.