The OFC U-17 Women’s Championship 2020 has been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Oceania Football Confederation’s Executive Committee made the decision to cancel the tournament and nominate New Zealand as OFC’s representative for the rescheduled FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup that is due to be played in India next year.
The OFC U-17 Women’s Championship was originally set to take place in Tahiti in December 2019 as the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship but was postponed due to the measles epidemic in the Pacific.
It was then rescheduled to April and renamed for this year to reflect player eligibility, but it was further postponed when OFC put all of their football activities on hold due to coronavirus on March 9.
Border restrictions remain in place throughout the Pacific and many football teams are unable to train together due to social distancing measures.
OFC tournaments featuring players from this age bracket are generally scheduled in school holidays and no clear window was available in the coming months where a majority of the competing nations had school holidays in unison.
Given all of these factors, it became increasingly difficult to reschedule the tournament, while providing the winner with adequate time to prepare for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup.
New Zealand, who have won the four previous editions of the OFC U-16 Women’s Championship, were nominated to attend the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup as OFC’s representative due to their strong history in the Pacific event.
OFC General Secretary Franck Castillo said this was a sad reality of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We understand this is a deeply disappointing situation for all of the players, coaches and officials involved but the health and safety of the Pacific football community remains our top priority,” Castillo said.
“We want to provide the team who will represent OFC with the best chance to prepare for next year’s FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in India.”
Updates on future OFC tournaments, including this year’s Champions League and the men’s U-19 Championship are expected on July 31.
“The coronavirus continues to provide unique logistical challenges and we are speaking regularly with our 11 Member Associations to ensure they’re well informed about what is going on with future events,” Castillo said.