The Qatar Football Association (QFA), the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (SC) and the Qatar Stars League (QSL) have worked with the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) to implement measures and protocols to ensure the safety of players and tournament officials taking part in the 2020 AFC Champions League Western Zone matches.
These include mandatory COVID-19 testing, safe transportation methods, regular disinfection of all tournament venues, including training and media facilities, as well as the provision of medical staff in stadiums throughout the competition.
Commenting on the measures, Nasser Al Khater, CEO of the 2020 AFC Champions League Local Organising Committee (LOC) and CEO of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, said: “Hosting the AFC Champions League marks a great milestone in the return of football at a continental level, following the unprecedented disruption of the last few months, and we are proud to be able to step in to host such a prestigious tournament. Our top priority is to ensure that everyone involved in the event remains healthy and safe, and we are working hard to make this so.”
Al Khater added: “We’re also pleased to be able to further test the operational efficiency of three of our eight FIFA World Cup stadiums, as well as our world-class training facilities, allowing some of the Asian continent’s best clubs experience our new sporting infrastructure being developed for 2022.”
The tournament will resume from 14 September to 3 October in four stadiums across Qatar, three of which are FIFA World Cup 2022™ stadiums. Along with Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, home of local QSL side Al Sadd SC, Qatar 2022 venues Khalifa International Stadium, Al Janoub Stadium and Education City Stadium will host matches in the group stage until the semi-final.
To ensure the safe and gradual return of Asian football, and in line with the State of Qatar’s commitment to limit the spread of COVID-19, there will be no fans permitted into stadiums during the tournament.
As per the regulations stipulated by the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH), all players and tournament officials will be tested for COVID-19 upon their arrival to Qatar at Hamad International Airport (HIA). Participants will then continue their immigration process through dedicated counters, collect their luggage and be transported to their accommodation. In order to take part in the event, participants must then quarantine until their test results are negative.
As soon as they arrive in their designated accommodation, players and tournament officials will be placed in a ‘medical bubble,’ limiting their movement only to and from their designated accommodation, stadiums and training sites. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, individuals under the same medical bubble will not be permitted to make contact with anyone outside their bubble.
When the tournament activities kick off, players and tournament officials will wear masks at all times and maintain social distancing, with a 1.5 metre distance between every individual as per Qatar’s health protocols. Food and beverages will not be allowed inside the stadiums.
One protocol mandates that the teams will only be transported in small groups of a maximum 50 percent capacity using alternate seats and maintaining the 1.5 metres distance. Other preventive measures see that capacity of tournament venues are strictly monitored and are disinfected regularly as per MoPH’s Cleaning Guidance.
As a means of ensuring a swift and well-resourced front line response during the tournament, all stadiums are equipped with medical clinics fitted with a team of medical staff. Stadiums will also have dedicated isolation rooms to hold any individual exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 or requiring any medical assistance.
Throughout the duration of the tournament, players and tournament officials will undergo regular temperature checks prior to entry into tournament-related venues.
The tournament will bring together teams from Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and hosts Qatar, who will compete for a spot to play against the champion of the East Zone in the final of Asia’s most prestigious club competition on December 19, 2020.