21 Apr 2020

Sport; Oceania's Nations Cup football competition cancelled

6:13 pm on 21 April 2020

The OFC Nations Cup football competition has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo.

OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo. Photo: Supplied

The regional championship, which is held every four years, was scheduled to be held in Auckland, New Zealand in June.

The Qualifying Stage event that was scheduled to take place in the Cook Islands in March was previously postponed, while OFC announced six weeks ago that all football activities across the Pacific would be suspended until at least 6 May.

The regional body said ongoing obstacles regarding international travel means the Nations Cup will be unplayable in the coming months and teams would not be able to adequately prepare.

The tournament would not be moved to a new window as OFC said its priority was to ensure the FIFA World Cup qualifying process could begin later this year and those matches must take place in the FIFA International Match Calendar.

OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo said the cancellation of the Nations Cup was a disappointing reality of the Covid-19 situation.

"While the Nations Cup is the flagship tournament for men's football in OFC, the health and safety of the football community is our top priority," he said.

"With that in mind, it was only fair that our Executive Committee came to this conclusion as we continue our fight to stop the spread of coronavirus."

OFC said its 11 Member Associations have experienced challenging operating conditions recently, with many of these countries in lockdown, and it will continue to liaise with the football community around when any future tournaments may be played.

PNG finished runners up in the 2016 OFC Nations Cup.

New Zealand beat PNG on penalties in the final of the 2016 OFC Nations Cup. Photo: OFC via Phototek