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Sports News

Al Wahda removed from AFC Champions League after failing to arrive in Doha

(Reuters) - United Arab Emirates club Al Wahda have been withdrawn from the AFC Champions League after the club failed to arrive in Doha, Qatar for their remaining group matches, the continental soccer governing body (AFC) said on Monday.

The AFC Champions League, Asia’s elite club competition which was suspended in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, is set to resume in the West Asia hub of Qatar later on Monday and the East Asia hub of Malaysia on Oct. 16.

Al Wahda were supposed to arrive in Doha a minimum of four days before their match but informed the AFC last week that they could not travel due to positive COVID-19 tests which led to the club being placed under quarantine by authorities in the UAE.

“Al Wahda... shall be considered to have withdrawn from the competition having failed to arrive in Doha, Qatar ahead of their remaining Group A matches,” the AFC said in a statement.

“...the matches played by Al Wahda in the AFC Champions League (West) shall be considered ‘null and void’. For the avoidance of doubt, no points or goals from the previous matches will be considered in determining the final group rankings.”

Al Wahda were second in Group A after two matches with four points, behind Saudi Arabian club Al Ahli on head-to-head away goals.

The AFC had drafted special rules applicable during the pandemic which informed participating clubs that those who cannot travel due to COVID-19 restrictions will be considered to have withdrawn from the competition.

COVID-19 tests conducted on all participating teams in Qatar returned seven positive results over the weekend.

This year’s edition of the AFC Cup, Asia’s second-tier club competition, was cancelled due to the pandemic.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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