Due to travel restrictions Auckland City have had to withdraw from the FIFA Club World Cup.
“Due to the New Zealand Government’s revision to border controls in light of the COVID-19 variant Omicron, Auckland City FC are unable to participate in the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2021™ in February next year,” the OFC wrote in a press release.
Auckland club president Ivan Vuksich said the decision was not taken lightly.
“We’re obviously bitterly disappointed that circumstances have put participation beyond our reach for the second year in a row. A lot of hard work and effort went into preparing to compete in the UAE, so to be unable to go is a blow,” he told the team’s website.
The OFC have nominated AS Pirae from Tahiti to take their place at the tournament.
The Tahitian team is the reigning Ligue 1 champion and were supposed to play in the OFC Champions League both in 2021 and 2022, but both were cancelled due to the coronavirus.
“Following the withdrawal of Auckland City FC, OFC have at short notice, in line with the aforementioned agreed sporting merit principles, taken the necessary steps to guarantee the participation of an Oceania club representative at the competition.
“The potential impact on players, officials and the wider community, the postponement or cancellation of domestic leagues and the ability to ensure travel in a safe manner were all considered, along with team preparation criteria,” the OFC wrote.
Based upon these criteria, AS Pirae were selected.