Reigning champions kicked out of Asian Champions League after coronavirus outbreak

Al-Hilal have been forced to withdraw from the Asian Champions League after they were unable to field a team due to an outbreak of coronavirus Source: AFP

Defending Asian Champions League champions Al-Hilal have been forced to withdraw from the competition after a coronavirus outbreak meant the club was unable to field a full team.

The Saudi Arabian side could only name nine starting players and two substitute goalkeepers for their Group B clash against Shabab Al Ahli Dubai after the club was hit with a reported 31 COVID-19 infections ahead of the match.

Although Al-Hilal had already clinched a place in the knockout stage of the premier Asian club tournament, Asian Champions League rules state that clubs who are unable to field a squad of 13 players will forfeit all remaining matches.

"All matches played by Al Hilal, who named only 11 players, are considered null and void according to Article 6 of the AFC Champions League regulations," An Asian Football Confederation statement said.

"Therefore Pakhtakor of Uzbekistan and Shabab Al Ahli Dubai have progressed to the Round of 16 from Group B."

Al-Hilal,16 times winners of the Asian Champions League, had called for the match to be postponed but their request was denied by the AFC.

The Asian Champions League was was suspended in March, but matches have resumed this month by clubs based in the tournament's western zone with all matches played in Qatar.

Al-Wahada of the UAE was also forced to withdraw from the competition after a coronavirus outbreak meant they were unable to travel for their matches.

Sydney FC, Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory are scheduled to restart their Asian Champions League campaign on November 15.

The final is scheduled for decemeber 19.


Source SBS The World Game