Per a new report from ESPN, New Zealand based club Auckland City FC has decided to withdraw from the FIFA Club World Cup due to coronavirus quarantine protocols. New Zealand’s quarantine protocols for people who travel outside of the country posed too many complications with regards to Auckland City’s involvement in the competition in February, which takes place in Qatar. The club made the final decision despite having regular communications with FIFA for the past couple of months; New Zealand’s protocols just go far beyond FIFA’s reach.
“FIFA together with the Qatari authorities, will implement a comprehensive medical and security protocol providing the safeguards required to protect the health and safety of everyone involved in the competition,” FIFA said in its statement after Auckland City announced their withdrawal from the tournament in Qatar.
Now as it stands, in addition to Bayern Munich; Al-Duhail SC, Al Ahly SC, Ulsan Hyundai FC, Tigres UANL and the winners of the CONMEBOL Libertadores final which takes place on January 30th will compete for the Club World Cup title. The draw to determine who will play who will take place next week, on January 19th, just under two weeks before the start of the competition itself.
For Bayern, this is their first appearance in the competition since 2013, when they won the tournament in Marrakesh, Morocco, beating Raja Casablanca 2-0 in the final with goals from Dante and Thiago Alcantara. Back then, the tournament was conveniently close to the winter-pause period for Bayern, but now because of the coronavirus pandemic, Bayern has to play in the tournament in-between Bundesliga matches against Hertha Berlin (2/5/21) and DSC Arminia Bielefeld (2/15/21). The scheduling could pose problems for Bayern, especially since they have their first leg against Lazio in the Champions League round of 16 just less than two weeks after the conclusion of the Club World Cup. Either way, it’s another chance for Hansi Flick and Bayern to win another piece of silverware, and their first of this calendar year.