UPDATE, Sept. 8 (12:20 pm ET) – Concacaf World Cup qualifiers won't start until March 2021, Concacaf and FIFA jointly announced Tuesday. The adjustment comes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, providing a target date for teams as they build towards the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Health and travel concerns were both cited, as international soccer faces unique challenges that leagues might not geography-wise. The start was originally slated for October or November 2020.
"Many parts of the region continue to have very challenging public health situations, and that has been a key factor in this decision," a statement read. "Additionally, several countries across the confederation have travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, which would make international football involving 30 national teams extremely difficult."
The schedule will be released after Concacaf and FIFA finalize the details.
Concacaf World Cup qualifying might have to wait until March 2021, as the confederation continues to plan its future calendar amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Concacaf president Victor Montagliani joined OneSoccer for an interview posted on Wednesday, stating that the initial timeline they'd hoped for, which would have had World Cup qualifying start in October, likely wasn't feasible.
While Montagliani said Concacaf is aiming for November, the more likely scenario is that the start will be delayed until March 2021.
"No, it's likely not to go ahead in October," Montagliani said. "I have a meeting at the end of this week with FIFA on this issue, and for me to say that it likely will go ahead would be a lie. It likely won't go ahead in October. We're actually looking at what even November would look like.
"So, round one, which is where Canada is starting, would start as early as November, but even likely next March. So what we're talking about with FIFA is where would these dates that we lose, where would they go on the calendar in 2021-'22. There is an opportunity to put them there. So, basically everything would shift from where it is now down a bit. I even said when we announced this, even if we lost October and November from an official competition standpoint, I was comfortable the calendar would allow enough flexibility to continue. So, the format won't change. Obviously if in '21 we start losing dates — it's not just Concacaf, I think every federation, including FIFA itself — would have to go back to the drawing board."