The South American 2022 World Cup qualifiers will begin next month despite concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the region’s football governing body CONMEBOL has confirmed.
The announcement followed a video conference call involving CONMEBOL officials and FIFA president Gianni Infantino, in which the Paraguay-based entity sought guarantees that clubs would release their players.
“The dates of the first matches – October 8 and 13 – were ratified at the meeting, while President Infantino expressed FIFA’s willingness for all national teams to be on equal terms,” CONMEBOL said in a statement.
The South American qualifiers had been due to begin in March but were suspended because of the global health crisis.
Latin America is one of the worst-affected regions by the pandemic, accounting for around a third of the confirmed global death toll, which exceeds 900,000.
CONMEBOL says it has imposed strict sanitary protocols for the tournament, in accordance with requirements in each of the confederation’s 10 member nations.
In the opening round of CONMEBOL qualifiers, Colombia host Venezuela, Uruguay are home to Chile, Bolivia visit Brazil, Paraguay welcome Peru and Ecuador travel to Argentina.