The ASEAN Football Federation (AFF), which organises competitions in Southeast Asia, has announced that its flagship Suzuki Cup national team tournament will now take place in December 2021.

The tournament was originally due to take place last month before being rescheduled for April and May next year. It will now begin on December 5 next year, running through to January 1, 2022.

The AFF said the decision has been taken in consideration of the health and safety of all parties, and to provide greater certainty to event stakeholders, including teams, players, officials, commercial partners and fans.

The tournament features a series of home and away fixtures and is not held in one host country.

AFF president Major General Khiev Sameth said: “As always, our first priority is the health and safety of everyone connected with the event. As such, we have been monitoring COVID-19 developments, both within ASEAN and in the wider world, on a continuous basis.

“While there have been encouraging results in vaccine development, we are cognisant that the process of vaccine approval, as well as the practicalities of the distribution and implementation of vaccine programmes across the world including ASEAN will take some time.

“Given the complexities around the organisation of the event, and the many people and organisations that are impacted by it, the AFF believes in taking a pragmatic approach and making a considered decision early that will allow the stakeholders in the event to have enough notice to reorganise their activities – and so that planning for the end of the year can be focused around the AFF Suzuki Cup as a great occasion for football in the region as it has always been.”

Last month, the AFF pushed back its inaugural Club Championship to 2022. The tournament was due to take place this year but was postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19, but the packed calendar next year forced the AFF to further delay the event.

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