Copa Libertadores suspended over coronavirus

Asuncion (AFP) –


South American football's governing body CONMEBOL on Thursday suspended the next round of Copa Libertadores fixtures due to the new coronavirus pandemic.

The Copa Libertadores is the South American equivalent of Europe's Champions League, although the 2020 edition only began in January and is still at the group stage.

"Committed to the prevention of COVID-19 and faced with the risk of its spread, and to safeguard delegates, referees, officials, press and fans, (CONMEBOL) has taken the decision to suspend the 2002 Copa Libertadores matches in the week of March 15-21," said the governing body in a statement.

Earlier on Thursday, FIFA accepted a request from CONMEBOL to postpone two upcoming rounds of South American qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Latin American countries have been stepping up measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Several countries have announced two-week isolation periods on travelers arriving from the worst affected countries, while others have closed schools or banned festivities.

Costa Rica has suspended its football league while Argentina has called off its MotoGP in April as well as the South American Swimming Championships, an Athletics Grand Prix meeting, the Fencing World Cup and an Olympic boxing qualification tournament.

Brazil's Flamengo are the reigning Libertadores champions following a dramatic 2-1 victory over then-holders River Plate of Argentina in last year's final in Lima.