International Competitions - April 18, 2021 17:00The noisy silence of AsiaWho will take part in the World Cup?by Luca Ranocchiari - editor

First of all, let's say that we tried so hard to get an "official" answer (or at least, an indication) from AFC. But unfortunately we got no answer. The big question is: who will "qualify" for the FIFA Futsal World Cup 2021 in Lithuania? Which criteria will be taken into account to decide?

Our starting consideration is: the AFC Futsal Championships (or better: AFC Futsal Asian Cup as is it called now) should have been played. Everybody is aware of the current situation given by the worldwide pandemic and don't want to underestimate it, but we're quite sure that for "major trophies" (to express it in English FA style) a good solution would have been found, but this is futsal guys and the efforts are not the same. Maybe a shorter version, a different formula: a way to play was possible, we firmly believe this as we could see a lof of competitions (in futsal, as in other sports, even involving different countries) being completed in the last year.

But that's it: no tournament will take place in neither Turkmenistan nor Kuwait. No nation will qualify in the pitch but the FIFA Futsal World Cup draw in Zurich is waiting for five countries from Asia on June 1st. So, what to do?

As "rumoured" and then confirmed by a recent press release by the Vietnamese FA (click here) the proposed options were two:

1) Best five nations from the last three AFC Futsal Championships (2014, 2016, 2018): IR Iran, Uzbekistan, Japan, Thailand and Vietnam

2) Best five nations from the last AFC Futsal Championships (2018): IR Iran, Japan, Uzbekistan, Iraq and Lebanon

The mentioned Vietnamese release indicated that this was discussed on an April 7th online meeting and "most" of the committee members declared option 1 as more reasonable. Actually, following the information we could get, this vote took place, by mail, some weeks previous to this meeting, with a clear choice as a result: 13 votes for option 1 and just 3 for the second chance. So, April 7th meeting, was supposed to be the day for a public and definitive announce of a decision already determined by the Futsal & Beach Soccer committee 16 members (know who they are: click here) But this didn't happen, why? No official news for sure, but looks like the Futsal Committee decision was suddenly overturned and maybe replaced by a new vote from a different AFC Committee (not specified, no info on eventual voting result or further decisions).

Last but not least, to deal with option 1 and 2 supporters... here is option 3: a play-off between Thailand, Vietnam, Lebanon and Iraq (namely the four nations not included in both previous options).

What is sure is that any decision will be made will displease someone, left out from the chance to reach the Lithuania 2021 finals.

As always let's wait for official news released by AFC, hoping that this silence will be soon broken!
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