The Confederation of African Football (CAF) postponed the Champions League semi-final second leg between Moroccan side Raja Casablanca and Egypt’s Zamalek after the former reported new coronavirus cases.
The match, which was due to be played on October 24, will now take place on November 1 in Cairo. Zamalek won the first leg 1-0 in Casablanca on Sunday.
CAF issued a statement late on Thursday saying the decision was taken to “protect the integrity of the competition and promote a spirit of solidarity”.
CAF also confirmed Raja had informed it that the team was under quarantine by health authorities after eight players tested positive for the coronavirus. It also confirmed receipt of decisions cancelling the club’s special authorization to travel outside Morocco and imposing a one-week self-isolation on team members.
“As a result, the team will not be able to travel to Egypt for their second leg of the 2019/20 T0TAL CAF Champions League Semi-Finals against Zamalek, scheduled for 24 October 2020,” the statement read in part.
“Following a consultation meeting held immediately between the CAF experts, the authorities of RAJA CA and the Royal Moroccan Football Federation (FRMF), the President of RAJA CA reaffirmed the willingness of the Club to participate until about this competition.”
CAF defended its decision saying the existence and nature of the coronavirus pandemic made it necessary to make “temporary adaptations” depending on the pandemic’s evolution and the available scientific knowledge.
“Temporary measures and practices taken here are only justified in the face of these exceptional circumstances. They can thus evolve according to the situation.”
Media reports had suggested Raja would officially request CAF to have the match postponed if its latest round of testing resulted in more positive cases and the number of players affected exceeded five.
Earlier on Thursday, Raja confirmed six new coronavirus cases increasing the total number of cases among its players to 14 increasing doubts over its participation in the fixture.
Recent celebrations to mark the club’s league title, its first in seven years, have been blamed for the Covid-19 outbreak.
CAF also said the semi-final second leg between Al Ahly and Wydad Athletic Club which is to be played later on Friday will go ahead as planned, while the date of the CAF Champions League final also remains November 6.