In a statement released Thursday evening, the ASEAN Football Federation announced that it has postponed its main competition, the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020, to 2021 amidst the difficult circumstances in the region.
“Since the onset of COVID-19, the AFF has been closely monitoring guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO), Health Ministries, government agencies, FIFA and AFC,” said AFF President, Major General Khiev Sameth.
This development comes after much deliberation by different stakeholders. As the premier sporting tournament in Southeast Asia, continuing to play the games with its home and away format could have led to huge risks for its teams, fans, and other personnel.
“As you are aware, this pandemic continues to pose enormous health, societal and economic challenges to us all. AFF’s top priority continues to be the health and safety of our football family and mitigating the impact of this pandemic. With the risk of the spread of COVID-19 remaining high, the AFF finds itself in a situation where we cannot proceed safely with the AFF Suzuki Cup 2020,” added the Cambodian.
There is still no word as to when the tournament shall be played in 2021 nor if this change signals a shift in its cycle.
It remains to be seen also if the competition shall revert back to its old style of having one nation host all the group games.
“While these are unprecedented times for the whole world including our football family and communities, we are confident that we will get through it together with the support of all our stakeholders including our fans, Member Associations, players, coaches, official, media and partners and we would like to thank them for standing united with us in the fight against COVID-19.”
In the 2018 AFF Suzuki Cup, the Philippines — led by manager Sven-Goran Eriksson and bannered by the likes of Phil Younghusband and the returning Stephan Schrock — earned a semi-finals finish after failing to do so in the previous edition.