July 30, 2020 / 5:58 PM / 7 days ago

Soccer-England women not to play in 2021 SheBelieves Cup due to COVID concerns

July 30 (Reuters) - The England women’s team will not participate in the annual SheBelieves Cup next year due to “uncertainties” around the COVID-19 pandemic situation in the United States, British media reported on Thursday.

England have taken part in the invitational round-robin tournament every year since its inception in 2016 and were crowned champions last year when they topped the standings ahead of hosts United States, Japan and Brazil.

The FA said that travel concerns and a tight international window did not make a trip to the U.S. feasible.

“The FA has taken the decision not to enter next year’s SheBelieves Cup in the USA,” it said in a statement.

“Our withdrawal from the competition in 2021 is based on existing uncertainties around the future trend of the COVID-19 pandemic, together with a detailed review of our technical priorities for England Women.

“The clear focus for our technical team will be to deliver an international fixture programme which provides the best possible performance outcomes for the Lionesses as we begin a crucial three-year period building to the home Euro in 2022 and women’s World Cup in 2023.”

The U.S. won their third title at this year’s edition, which was held in March before the pandemic shut down world sport, while England finished third. (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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