FIFA is recommending all international matches previously scheduled to take place in March and April be postponed until they can take place in a safe and secure environment in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
"In light of the current situation concerning the Coronavirus, the Bureau of the FIFA Council has decided that the general football rules which normally oblige clubs to release players for national team matches will not apply for the up-coming international windows in March/April," the Federation said in a Friday statement. "To avoid any unnecessary health risks and also situations of potential sporting unfairness, we therefore recommend that all international matches previously scheduled to take place in March and April should now be postponed until such time that they can take place in a safe and secure environment for both players and the general public. The final decision on this issue rests with the respective competition organizers or relevant member association in case of friendlies.
"FIFA understands that to hold the matches under current circumstances might not only present potential health risks to players (and to the general public) but would also, most likely, compromise the sporting integrity of such matches insofar as certain teams may be deprived of their best squads whilst others may not."
Qualifying matches in Asia and South America for the 2022 World Cup had already been postponed prior to Friday's statement. FIFA said it will be "studying the possibilities for re-scheduling any postponed matches."
FIFA's recommendation comes as most major leagues in soccer and North American sports, including Major League Soccer, U.S. Soccer and Concacaf, are announcing postponements and cancelations of sporting events in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.