The first games in the South American qualifying competition for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have been moved back to October from September, football's global governing body FIFA said on Friday.
The first double header of games organised by the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) was due to be played between Sept. 3-8 this year but will now take place between Oct. 8-13.
CONMEBOL have also asked that an additional window in January 2022 be added, although that has yet to be decided. The coronavirus pandemic has caused a huge backlog of international matches with limited windows next year.
"Taking into account the outcome of the discussions held in the COVID-19 FIFA-Confederations Working Group, the CONMEBOL Council has today requested FIFA to include a replacement international window in January 2022 in the International Match Calendar in order to complete the South American qualifiers in March 2022," FIFA said in a statement.
Meanwhile, CONMEBOL also said on Friday that South America's premier club competition the Copa Libertadores is to restart in September after the hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The 32 teams involved in the region's version of the Champion's League can resume their games from Sept. 15 behind closed doors and following the protocols put in place to prevent any further spread of the virus.
The Copa Sudamericana, the continent's second-tier tournament equivalent to the Europa League, can restart from Oct. 27, CONMEBOL said.
If the January window for CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying is approved, that could impact top European clubs with a high number of South American and African players, since the Africa Cup of Nations will also be held in January 2022.
The 2022 World Cup will take place in November and December due to the high summer temperatures in Qatar.
All 10 South American teams play each other home and away in the regional qualifiers. The top four qualify automatically and the fifth-placed side goes into a playoff.
Information from Reuters was used in this report.