South Africa are no longer interested in hosting the Fifa Club World Cup in December.
Although they were initially confident about convincing Fifa to bring the global tournament to the Southern African country, Safa have now changed their stance due to the coronavirus situation in the country.
The association released a statement explaining that the vaccination drive has not gone as fast as they had initially hoped which led to a decision to pull the plug on pursuing hosting the event.
“Safa’s National Executive Committee resolved that [it] will not be pursuing the matter of hosting the event,” read a statement from the football governing body.
“For South Africa to host the Fifa Club World Cup, the nation needs to reach the 70 per cent vaccination threshold.”
As it stands, South Africa has vaccinated just under a third of its adult population of just under 40 million.
This withdrawal leaves the United Arab Emirates, the only other country to have made a formal expression of interest to Fifa, as the frontrunner to host the event.
When announcing its bid last month, Safa spokesperson Dominic Chimhavi had rallied that South Africa’s improved vaccination roll-out would resolve any such concerns.
“Everything will be under control by December. We are on a massive vaccination drive,” Chimhavi told BBC Sport Africa in mid-September.
While the drive may be on-going, it has not come quick enough to get the vaccination rate over 70% while the situation in the country is adjudged to still be serious enough for it to remain on the British government’s red-list travel ban category.
“South Africa is currently red-listed by Great Britain where European champions Chelsea will come from, another possible hindrance to the process,” added Safa.
Anyone travelling to the United Kingdom from a red-list country must spend 10 days in quarantine upon arrival, but the rules have been amended for footballers playing in the World Cup qualifiers this month.
The British government said last week that double-jabbed players can play this month’s World Cup qualifiers in red-list countries and while they must still quarantine upon their return, they can at least now be let out to train or play.
Coronavirus has badly affected this year’s Club World Cup, whose original hosts Japan withdrew from staging the competition in early September because of coronavirus fears.
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By FARPost Reporter