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Maldives to host SAFF Championship 2021 in October

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Maldives to host SAFF Championship 2021 in October

The South Asian Football Federation (SAFF) agreed to grant the island nation the hosting rights for the edition.

Maldives will host the 13th edition of SAFF Championship later this year, SAFF confirmed in its virtual meeting earlier today. The tournament is likely to take place from October 1-13, after a year-long delay due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After Bangladesh withdrew as hosts in July, three nations expressed their interest in holding the biennial tournament. The governing body and the delegates from member countries agreed on granting the rights to the Maldives over India and Nepal. The All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) was sent out a conditional offer from SAFF to submit the official proposal as hosts, which will now go to the Maldives.

“SAFF decided to hold the Championship in Maldives because of a relatively better COVID-19 situation there, when compared to Nepal. Also, it has been long since Maldives last hosted the Championship,” ANFA General Secretary Indraman Tuladhar commented.

Speaking on the occasion, Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih congratulated the Football Association of Maldives. “Exciting news! Maldives has been selected as the hosts for this year’s SAFF Football Championship to be held in October,” he revealed in a tweet. “My congratulations to Maldives FA and others in the sports fraternity who worked hard to make this possible.”

This year’s tournament will take place in a round-robin format, with every team facing each other in the preliminary round. SAFF will confirm the number of participating teams soon, the meeting decided.

SAFF has already ruled out Pakistan, whereas Bhutan are in doubt for the tournament as of right now. Pakistan will not be able to participate in the tournament following a ban imposed on the nation by FIFA. Similarly, Bhutan will confirm their participation within three days, since government regulations do not currently allow Bhutanese nationals to travel abroad.

The Maldives has already co-hosted the SAFF Championship in 2008 with Sri Lanka winning the title on home turf.