Australia’s national football team will potentially have to play its next ‘home’ World Cup qualifier in Doha, Qatar after Football Australia was unable to get quarantine and travel exemptions from federal and state governments.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against China on 2 September will most likely be held in Qatar, the host of the tournament, and will be confirmed after ongoing talks between Football Australia and Qatari officials about the possible venue switch.
If local governments in Australia had allowed the exemptions from player quarantining and travel bubbles, the match would have taken place at Sydney’s Bankwest Stadium.
At present, the Socceroos’ World Cup qualifier against Vietnam is to go ahead without complications as the match is taking place in the opponents’ capital of Hanoi. The Bankwest Stadium is still scheduled for Australia’s home qualifying games against Oman and Saudi Arabia in October and November.
A Football Australia spokesperson said: “It will be our strong preference to host these matches in Australia. We will continue to work with the federal and state governments about the opportunity to host matches in Australia for both the Socceroos and Matildas in the coming months.
“We will also be led by the federal government and state governments on hosting matches in Australia, and we strongly support government advice that mass vaccinations is our pathway out of Covid-19.”
Headlines were made on the national side losing its home advantage in early August, but a solution had not yet been reached. It was reported that there was the possibility of the game being played in Europe, as this is where most Australian players are based, but this was also not allowed.
Overseas-based players would have faced a two-week quarantine when arriving in Australia.