Bangladesh Football Federation ‘unwilling’ to organise SAFF Championship for COVID

Bangladesh Football Federation is ‘not interested’ in organising the postponed SAFF Championship due to a record rise in deadly coronavirus infections in the country.

Bangladesh had been eager to host the tournament, rescheduled to be held from Aug 30, as part of the celebrations of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s 100th birth anniversary.

But the surge in COVID-19 cases forced Bangladesh to impose a strict lockdown in July, putting the hosting of the tournament in doubts. The government reimposed the “strictest” curbs yet on Friday after a break for Eid-ul-Azha.

In this situation, the South Asian Football Federation asked for BFF’s opinion.  

“BFF has told us they cannot organise the tournament due to the COVID-19 situation,” SAFF General Secretary Anwarul Haque Helal told bdnews24.com on Friday.   

“We’ve discussed the issue with everyone virtually today. All the countries want the tournament to be held this year. We want to hold the tournament in early October, when we have a gap in the slot.”

Besides India and Nepal, the Maldives has expressed interest in organising the tournament jointly with Sri Lanka, but Nepal appeared to be ahead in the race. Helal said the All Nepal Football Association already contacted their government for the proposal.  

Bangladesh hosted the tournament in 2018 as well. Although a country is not allowed to organise it two times in a row, BFF got the permission as the host for Bangabandhu’s birth centenary in 2020. It was postponed due to the pandemic.