The Cook Islands champions Tupapa Maraerenga have pulled out of Oceania Champions League Group C. The announcement came mere hours before the first match was set to take place.
The reason for the withdrawal is that three of their players failed to confirm their immunization for measles, following the recent measles outbreak in the Pacific, and were therefore banned from taking part in the tournament.
A statement on the OFC website read:
“On 28 February 2020, following blood tests to confirm their immunisation status for measles requested by the Directorate of Health and Social Affairs of New Caledonia (DASS – Direction des Affaires Sanitaires et Sociales de Nouvelle-Calédonie), test results for three players from the Cook Islands representative club and two players from the Solomon Islands representative club could not confirm their immunization for measles. The DASS decided not to allow the players concerned to participate in training sessions and matches during the Group C of the 2020 OFC Champions League. However, we understand that players are free to participate in any other activities with their club during their stay in New Caledonia.”
From the statement text two players from Solomon Warriors have also been suspended. On the withdrawal from Tupapa the statement reads.
“We have been informed that the club from Cook Islands no longer wishes to take part in the competition and will leave New Caledonia on March 1, 2020. Therefore, the matches scheduled on March 1, 2020 (Tupapa Maraerenga FC vs AS magenta), on March 4, 2020 (Tupapa Maraerenga FC vs Solomon Warriors) and on March 7, 2020 (AS Tiare Tahiti vs Tupapa Maraerenga FC) will not take place.”
That means only three teams compete in Group C in Nouméa and in the first game debutants Tiare Tahiti lost 1-0 to the Solomon Warriors.