September 23, 2021

All you need to know about the 2021 SAFF Championship

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Five nations will be participating in this edition of SAFF…

The 2021 SAFF Championship will be the 13th edition of the competition since its inception in 1993. It is a biennial international men’s football championship that is usually held in a single venue. 

India are the most successful nation in the SAFF Championship as they have won the title seven times. In this campaign, India will be joined by Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and host Maldives. 

When will the 2021 SAFF Championship take place?

The SAFF Championship will start on October 1 and the final will take place on October 16.

Why did the SAFF Championship get postponed?

The 13th edition of the tournament was supposed to take place in 2020. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, it got postponed to September 2021. But, the championship got further delayed to October 2021 after Bangladesh refused to host the tournament due to the ongoing pandemic and lack of sponsors. 

Where will the 2021 SAFF Championship take place?

On August 9, the Emergency Executive Committee met virtually to decide the host between Nepal and Maldives. After deliberating on the matter it was unanimously agreed that the competition will be held in Maldives. 

“SAFF decided to hold the championship in the Maldives because of relatively better Covid-19 situation there. Also, it has been long since the Maldives last hosted the championship,” stated ANFA (All Nepal Football Association) general secretary Indraman Tuladhar after the meeting. 

The last time the championship was held in Maldives was in 2008 when it was jointly hosted along with Sri Lanka. In the upcoming edition, all matches will be played at the National Football Stadium in Male. 

What is the format of the 2021 SAFF Championship?

Since only five nations will be participating in the competition there will be no groups and the teams will play each other once in a round-robin format. The top two teams will advance to the final. 

Why did Pakistan, and Bhutan pull out of the 2021 SAFF Championship?

The Bureau of the FIFA Council suspended the Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) on April 7 2021 due to third-party interference. It was deemed as a serious violation of the FIFA statutes. The PFF headquarters in Lahore was taken over by a group of protestors and thereby dislodged the FIFA-appointed normalisation committee of the PFF led by Haroon Malik. The reins of administration were taken over by Syed Ashfaq Hussain Shah. FIFA warned PFF of consequences if the status quo was not restored. However, the situation remained unchanged which forced the FIFA Council to suspend Pakistan FA. Hence, no footballing activity can be undertaken by the national team. 

Whereas, Bhutan decided to refrain from participating in the tournament after the Bhutanese government did not grant necessary permission to send the national team abroad due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

What are the Covid-19 protocols in Maldives?

All personnel entering Maldives must undergo a COVID-19 RT-PCR test. The sample must be taken 96 hours before departure for Maldives. Persons with a negative report only will be allowed to enter. 

All the teams will be hosted in a bio-bubble and their movements will be restricted. 

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