Sat, Aug

King expresses disappointment as FIFA cancels U-17, 20 World Cups

FIFA has cancelled two age-group World Cups which had been due to take place next year because of the coronavirus crisis on Thursday.

Neither the men's Under-20 World Cup or Under-17 World Cup will be held in 2021, and the scheduled hosts will instead stage the 2023 editions.

Indonesia was set to stage the under-20 tournament and Peru the under-17 version.

The decision to cancel them was taken by the Bureau of the FIFA Council.

While the host nations will still be able to stage tournaments at a late date - if the global health situation allows - many players will miss out on what could have been a once-in-a-career experience at a global tournament.

However, the news has not gone down well with former national defender Derek King, the men's Under-20 coach who told Guardian Media Sports on Thursday that, "It's a tough decision but at the end of the day it's (the pandemic) worldwide but it's something that we will suffer from. We're hoping that FIFA comes up with a plan in the near future such as an Under 21 tournament and carry up the age group a bit. At that age, there are players who are now in their prime at the professional level and I hope that this is something FIFA will sit on with the countries and decide."

Angus Eve, who was appointed the T&T Under-15 in January said that this would be a big blow for those players who have been preparing for the past three years under the elite programme headed by coach Stuart Charles Fevrier before he took over the team in February.

Eve, a former national midfielder, whose contracted ended in August, said, "But, I understand and the players need to understand also since it is because of the pandemic. So let's wait and see what will happen going forward with those youth players in mind."

King, who is also an assistant to the senior men's team programme which is lead by Terry Fenwick, said he's looking forward to seeing how the TTFA would fill the void. "What I am really hoping for now is that we have a Normalisation Committee in charge of football, what we would like to see is that progressive thinking. Its something that we as a country we would also have to look at the development of our footballers at that age."

Meanwhile, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has also approved the allocation of places at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, which will be the first edition of the tournament expanded to 32 teams.

Europe will have 11 direct qualification spots, Oceania one, Asia six, Africa four, South America three and the Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) region four.

The three remaining berths will be decided via a playoff tournament, for which 10 teams will qualify - two from each region except Oceania and UEFA, which will each send one team.

The playoff tournament is to be played in New Zealand and Australia as a test event.

Four sides will be seeded, based on world rankings, and three groups - one containing four teams - will battle it out for World Cup berths, with each group winner earning one.

Teams from the same confederation cannot be in the same group.

Rather than a round-robin format, knockout ties will be used, and the seeded team will be just one win away from the World Cup in the three-team groups.

FIFA says that both the New Zealand and Australia teams will play friendly matches versus countries in three-team groups to ensure that they do not play only one game during their trip to Oceania.