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What Tournament Organisers Can Learn From India’s AFC Women’s Cup Exit

Football and covid mask
Friday, 25 February 2022 By Abhinav Shrivastava, Shubham Jain

The Indian women’s football team (Indian team) was forced to withdraw from the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Women’s Asian Cup 2022 (AFC Cup) due to twelve players testing positive for COVID-19 in the squad.1 On 23 January 2022, the Indian team was scheduled to play its second group game against Chinese Taipei. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the squad, the Indian team were unable to name the minimum 13 players required to start the match and consequently the match was called off a few minutes after the scheduled kick-off. Following the cancellation of the match, AFC considered India to have withdrawn from the competition in accordance with the Special Rules (defined below) instituted to address pandemic induced match cancellations.

In this context, we will explore:

  • AFC regulations that governed India’s withdrawal from the AFC Cup.

  • Approaches adopted by different tournaments in case of COVID-19 interruptions:

    • Mandatory cancellation of matches/withdrawal from tournament.

    • Discretionary case-to-case basis assessment.

We will conclude with suggestions for tournament organisers to address while exploring the different approaches taken by football tournaments.

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Written by

Abhinav Shrivastava

Abhinav Shrivastava

Counsel, LawNK

Abhinav Shrivastava is Counsel at LawNK, a Bangalore based boutique law practice specialising in sports, media, technology and intellectual property laws. He heads the Privacy and Data Protection practice at LawNK, and is a graduate of Kings’ College London and NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.

Shubham Jain

Shubham Jain

Shubham is a Research Associate at LawNK and a Fellow at the Sports Law and Policy Centre, India. He has completed his Masters degree in law from the University of Cambridge and has previously worked at Linklaters in London. His areas of interest and engagement include commercial, public law, and human rights issues in sports.
He can be found on Linkedin here: Shubham Jain
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