Portugal move World Cup qualifiers home to Turin
LISBON, Portugal (AP) – Cristiano Ronaldo will be able to stay at home in Turin when Portugal begin their World Cup qualifying program at a neutral venue in Italy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Portuguese soccer federation said on Thursday that its “home” game against Azerbaijan on March 24 had been moved to the home of Juventus, Ronaldo’s club.
Portuguese players, several of them with Premier League clubs, face quarantine issues on their return if they visit their home countries. Portugal also play games against Serbia on March 27 and Luxembourg three days later.
FIFA has extended an exemption from its mandatory release rules which allows clubs in some cases to refuse to let their players join national teams.
Portugal are the second of 55 European national teams to move a home game to neutral ground. Norway decided last month to host Turkey on March 27 in Malaga, Spain.
In Asia, only three World Cup qualifiers will be held this month. Only six of the 40 teams still involved will play, the other matches being postponed to June due to health protocols in force.
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