Southeast Asia’s biggest tournament is expected to face unprecedented challenges.
At the end of March, the Southeast Asian Football Federation (AFF) announced to postpone and postpone a number of tournaments because of the COVID-19 epidemic. However, the AFF Cup 2020 remains on hold on the grounds that by the end of the year the epidemic may have been under control.
Recently, the Thailand Football Association’s (FAT) plan to soon return the Thai League (Thailand) Championship was not allowed by the government of this country. Thus, the Thai-League can only return in September as previously announced.
This makes the Thai-League more likely to kick in parallel with the AFF Cup 2020. At that time, Thai clubs will not release people for the Thai team (AFF Cup is not part of the FIFA competition system). Therefore, Thailand may not have the strongest squad for the AFF Cup 2020.
Not only Thailand, but also regional teams are “contagious” with the Thai-League schedule. Say that because the clubs in the Thai-League have a lot of Southeast Asian players. In which the most disadvantaged is the Philippines when half of the squad is playing in the Thai-League.
This plus the Philippine Government allowing only the country’s national championship to resume in December has put the Philippines in a tight situation. Perhaps that is why the Southeast Asian press recently rumored that the Philippines would withdraw from the AFF Cup 2020.
Equally troubled are Malaysia and Indonesia. The return of the unidentified national championship has made the plans of the Malaysian and Indonesian teams unfinished.
The Siam Sports newspaper (Thailand) has an article warning that the 2022 World Cup qualifiers in Asia are resumed in September and October, which may take place in the empty field. And there is a lot of information that the AFF Cup 2020 taking place at the end of the year will also play inside the closed door.
The reason for the AFF Cup changed the format of the home and away game from the group stage to increase the number of fans coming to the field. Specifically, in the AFF Cup 2018, the average number of fans entering the field is nearly 30,000 people / game, nearly double that of the 2016 AFF Cup.
So, if the AFF Cup 2020 takes place in no-spectator condition, it will be a heavy blow to the tournament organizers. The problem is not in the ticket sales, but also in the vitality and soul of a tournament.
Even when the audience gets on the pitch, it is unlikely that everything in the AFF Cup 2020 will turn out as expected. Most countries have had difficulties after the COVID-19 epidemic, are fans still interested in football? With difficulties on and off the pitch, there are many rumors about the AFF Cup may be rescheduled.