Auckland City withdraws from the Worlds for the second time in a row, and AS Pirae, from Tahiti, will represent Oceania

Auckland City withdraws from the Worlds for the second time in a row, and AS Pirae, from Tahiti, will represent Oceania
Auckland City withdraws from the Worlds for the second time in a row, and AS Pirae, from Tahiti, will represent Oceania

For the second year in a row, Auckland City withdrew from the Club World Cup because of the coronavirus pandemic. The representative of Oceania at the tournament organized by FIFA from February 3rd will be AS Pirae, the first club from Tahiti to compete in the competition.

The Oceania Champions League, which defines the continent’s representative at the World Cup, has not been held for the past two years. An executive committee of the confederation named Auckland City, eight times champions in a row between 2010 and 2017, to return to the tournament, after New Zealand’s Team Wellington and New Caledonia’s Hienghène Sport participated in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

But, like last year, New Zealand’s strict rules for dealing with the pandemic, including the reintroduction of quarantine and isolation upon return to the country, prompted Auckland City to forgo its participation.

“Despite recent talks between FIFA, Auckland City, the New Zealand Football Federation and the Oceania Football Confederation, FIFA has been informed that the reopening of borders in New Zealand has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the reintroduction of the mandatory Managed Isolation and Quarantine system upon returning to the country means that Auckland had to reluctantly withdraw from the tournament,” FIFA said in a statement.

In their place will be Pirae, from Tahiti, one of the biggest winners in the country and who played in the final in Oceania in 2006 against Auckland City – they lost 3-1.

“Due to the New Zealand government’s review of border control in the face of the Ômicron variant of Covid-19, Auckland City will not be able to participate in the 2021 Club World Cup in February next year. In place of Auckland City, the Executive Committee of the Confederation of Football of Oceania, with FIFA’s approval, has appointed AS Pirae, from Tahiti, as the representative of Oceania at the Club World Cup,” the OFC said in a statement.

“Auckland City had been nominated in August of this year. The nomination was based on principles of sporting merit, agreed with FIFA, taking into account various sporting criteria and giving clubs a fair chance. After the departure of Auckland City, the OFC, at the last minute, in line with the aforementioned principles of sporting merits, took the necessary steps to ensure the participation of an Oceania representative in the competition”, he added.

AS Pirae takes the place of Auckland City in the confrontation against Al-Jazira, representative of the host country, in the playoffs that precede the quarterfinals of the Club World Cup. The game is scheduled for February 3rd.

 
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