Coronavirus causes Arabian Gulf League to be postponed for ‘up to four weeks’

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The UAE Football Association immediately postponed all football activity it controls on Sunday night in reaction to the ongoing coronavirus situation, meaning the Arabian Gulf League is set to stop for an initial spell lasting “up to four weeks”.

Organisers of the Emirates’ top flight, UAE Pro League, had announced late on Saturday evening that it would continue being played behind closed doors “as per the previously determined schedule”, albeit while being “continuously” assessed. This status would, however, be ended less than 24 hours later.

The UAE’s provisions, several have been issued in the past fortnight, have impacted the AGL’s Under-21 division, First Division League, Second Division League, national teams, women’s football, beach soccer, futsal and private academies. All youth football from U-17 downwards was paused last Thursday, with the U-19s following suite on Saturday.

“The UAE Football Association has decided to suspend all football activities in UAE for the season 2019/2020 from Sunday, 15 March 2020 up to four weeks, in coordination with the competent authorities in the country, and due to the precautionary procedures against the new coronavirus known as ‘Covid-19’,” an FA statement read. “There will be a reassessment to the medical condition after the end of the period mentioned.

“The UAE Football Association was keen to take this decision following the instructions issued by the competent authorities in the country to take precautionary and preventive measures to preserve the safety of all members of society, citizens and residents.

“The decision includes all competitions organised by the UAE Football Association, UAE Pro League, activities of the national teams, the women’s football committee, Futsal committee, private academies and others.

“The Football Association appreciates the efforts made by the competent authorities in the country to maintain a safe community.”

The UAE PL echoed the sentiments of the UAE FA in a concurrent statement.

It read: “In line with the UAE Football Association’s decision to suspend all football activity in the country starting today, Sunday March 15, 2020, for four weeks as a precautionary measure, it was decided that all UAE Pro League competitions, including the Arabian Gulf League and Arabian Gulf League U21 will be suspended. The situation will be reassessed and reviewed after the end of the said period.

“This decision has been made in coordination with the relevant UAE authorities.”

Match-weeks 18 and 19 had been played without supporters in the AGL. The next round of fixtures were scheduled for Thursday-Friday.

Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club hold a six-point advantage over second-placed Al Ain. At the opposite end, Fujairah and Hatta are in the relegation zone.

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