Chelsea are expected to be made to wait until 2022 to take part in the prestigious Club World Cup.
The competition will no longer be held in Japan as a result of the country’s battle with rising Covid-19 infections and with no alternative host selected, the Mirror report that FIFA are now set to postpone it.
Dates are yet to be confirmed and a final decision is expected to be made at FIFA’s next council meeting on October 20.
The annual winter tournament, won by Liverpool in 2019, is scheduled as such that Chelsea were preparing to see a number of Premier League matches affected, something which may not be necessary.
Brazil and Qatar have been among the nations reported to be keen in taking the place of Japan.
The Club World Cup looks to crown the greatest club side in the world and is usually held in December.
Japan would have hosted the tournament for the first time for its centennial celebrations, but rising case numbers and the possibility of a limit on the number of spectators have now forced their hand.
A statement earlier this month from the Japanese FA read: ‘The FIFA Club World Cup will not be held in Japan in December 2021 as a result of discussions between FIFA and the Japan Football Association (JFA) regarding the status of coronavirus infections and the current conditions for holding it.
‘The FIFA Club World Cup was positioned as part of the JFA 100th Anniversary Commemorative Project, but at this point it is difficult to predict the status of the coronavirus infections at the end of the year.
‘There are various restrictions such as restrictions on the number of spectators. We have come to the conclusion that it is very difficult to hold the event in the midst of it.’
Only last week, the president of the South African FA, Danny Jordaan, spoke about the difficulties facing their bid to swoop in as an alternative host.
He told Soccer Laduma: ‘The meeting has been postponed to Monday. I think the issues are clear; it’s Covid because we are red-listed by the UK government, which means no one can really travel from there to South Africa.’
‘Another issue is the low vaccinations rate and the fact that we still don’t have spectators in the stadium – FIFA have said “go and solve this problem and then come talk to us”, so that is a big issue in our way.
‘They are not sporting issues; there’s nothing we can do (government makes the decision). The tournament is in December, and that is why we have to meet with the government to understand the timelines.
‘What is encouraging is that they’ve said we are at the end of the third wave. Football in Africa, under Covid conditions, is quite different to Europe – they are almost back to normal.’