FIFA has announced that AS Pirae from Tahiti will replace Auckland City at the Club World Cup due to COVID-19 rules in New Zealand.
Auckland were set to participate at the 18th edition of FIFA’s global tournament, which is due to take place in February in the United Arab Emirates.
Champions League winners Chelsea and Copa Libertadores holders Palmeiras are the headline teams as UEFA and CONMEBOL’s respective entries, though FIFA has been forced into a late change with Pirae nominated as the OFC’s representative following Auckland’s withdrawal.
FIFA announced the decision on Friday in a statement that said the “delayed reopening of the borders in New Zealand due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic” as well as the reintroduction of quarantine protocols in the country had forced Auckland to “reluctantly withdraw”.
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Monterrey, Al Hilal, Al Ahly, as well as UAE champions, Al Jazira, make up the rest of the entrants for the tournament, which Bayern Munich won last season.
The annual tournament featuring the champions of six global confederations was originally scheduled for Japan in 2021, but COVID-19 concerns within the country forced the competition to be moved to the UAE last October.
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