European nations scheduled to play up to three World Cup qualifiers each during the September international window; FIFA and UEFA have written to national associations saying no away supporters will be able to attend the qualifiers, or any friendlies, due to rising Covid cases in Europe
Wednesday 11 August 2021 14:28, UK
FIFA and UEFA have ruled that no away supporters will be permitted to attend next month's World Cup Qualifiers due to "recent Covid spikes in Europe".
The decision is expected to be reviewed by the governing bodies before the international fixtures in October and November.
In a letter to national associations, they wrote: "FIFA and UEFA have been closely monitoring the evolution of the pandemic in Europe ahead of the UEFA preliminary competition matches for the FIFA World Cup 2022 taking place in the upcoming September international window.
"Due to the recent COVID-19 spikes in Europe combined with the large number of matches to be played during the September international window, it has been agreed to apply the same approach as decided by the UEFA executive committee on 14 June 2021 to all matches of the UEFA preliminary competition for the FIFA World Cup 2022.
"Friendly matches taking place in September will also be played without away supporters, with UEFA and FIFA saying they are placing "the safety of all those involved as its highest priority in these uncertain times."
The decision means no away fans will be present at England's World Cup qualifiers away to Hungary and Poland next month, although home fans will be permitted for their match against Andorra at Wembley.
Scotland will be without away support for their trips to Denmark and Austria, while Wales' fixtures in Finland and Belarus are also affected.
Northern Ireland are scheduled to travel to Lithuania and Estonia next month, while the Republic of Ireland have a trip to Portugal - all without away supporters.
Watch World Cup qualifiers live on Sky Sports.
The 2022 World Cup is taking place in Qatar in the winter months rather than the usual summer ones due to the heat.
The tournament kicks off on Monday, November 21 at the Al Bayt stadium in Al Khor with a match that will feature the host country.
The final will be played at the Lusail Stadium in Doha a week before Christmas on Sunday, December 18.
The tournament will feature 32 teams in eight groups of four.
Four matches will be played each day during the group stage, which will run over a 12-day period and see winners and runners-up progress to the round of 16.
Matches will only be assigned to particular venues after the finals draw, so organisers can choose optimal kick-off times to suit television audiences in different countries, as well as supporters in Qatar.
The finals draw is scheduled to take place in April 2022, after the March window for international fixtures.
Unlike at Euro 2020, there will be a third-place play-off game on December 17.
Group stage: November 21-December 2
Round of 16: December 3-6
Quarter-finals: December 9-10
Semi-finals: December 13-14
Final: December 18