Macau withdraw from 2022 World Cup

Photo: Macau FA
The Macau Football Association announced that they are withdrawing from the World Cup due to safety concerns for their players following the terrorist attacks that occurred in Sri Lanka. 

Macau was due to play their second-leg in Sri Lanka this week, the Macau FA did not consult their players before making their decision to withdraw and seem to be covering up for their own failures, here is my opinion on the farcical situation created unnecessarily.

Macau withdraw from the World Cup without the player's knowledge

The Macau FA took the extraordinary decision of withdrawing from the World Cup without acknowledging their player's thoughts on the perceived safety concerns of travelling to Sri Lanka. It's well known around the world what happened the other month, with the bombings but since then security has been ramped up and countries official foreign travel advice's have started to lift their advice against travelling to Sri Lanka.

The UK foreign travel advice updated their page with this - "the FCO no longer advise against all but essential travel to Sri Lanka." The UK foreign travel advice goes on to state that terrorist attacks could occur at any time in Sri Lanka, but the security in the country has been increased according to what has been written on the advice.

Due to this being official government advice, then you have to believe that right now, Sri Lanka is as safe as it can be this close to a terror attack, which is no different to when attacks took place in Paris, London, Madrid or anywhere else in the world.

As 48 national team players have threatened to never play for Macau again if they are not allowed to play the game, and we agree that they are making the correct stance. As a player why would you want to play for an association that hinders your efforts in getting to the World Cup second round qualifiers for the first time ever in your history? The first leg took place in China last week, with Macau winning 1-0. That means they have a very real chance of qualifying for the second round.

The Macau FA seem to be using security concerns as a way to cover up something going on behind the scenes, that they have messed up themselves. A theory that is backed up by many Macau football fans in the comments section of the Macau FA Facebook page, where they are accusing the FA of not being interested in helping football in Macau grow, but only interested in their own benefits, these, however, are only accusations and we have no way of verifying them, but there a lot of people absolutely raging on the Macau FA Facebook page.

Insurance seems to be the cause

So somewhere in this sorry mess, one of the players has apparently claimed that the Macau FA couldn't or didn't get the insurance needed for the team to travel to Sri Lanka, and this is what has caused the whole situation. It is unclear whether the Macau FA were refused insurance, or it was too expensive, or they expected the game to be moved so didn't bother getting it. Whatever the reason, it makes the Macau FA look like a bunch of amateurs, and demanding a new venue makes them look petty about it too. 

FIFA and the AFC have both checked the security situation in Sri Lanka, and decided the game should go ahead, while FIFA and the AFC are no great shakes when it comes to dodgy decisions, with FIFA  now being synonymous with corruption, but they are still the authority who has the final say on where the game will take place. Therefore demanding a neutral venue isn't a logical approach when it has been declared this won't happen.

The Macau players have since stated that they will sign papers stating they are responsible for their own safety, allowing the Macau FA to cease being responsible for their athletes while in Sri Lanka. It is yet to be seen whether the Macau FA will accept this from the players, but the players are doing everything they can within their powers to try and force the game to be played. 

The footballers obviously feel they are on the cusp of creating history for Macau football by achieving a second-round qualifying spot. We hope the Macau FA see sense and go to play in the game, because by withdrawing, football in the country will be plunged into a backward trajectory, and whatever progress has been made will be lost, along with 48 national team players if they don't back down from their threats. What a sad situation for all concerned with football in Macau, we wish the players all the luck in the world in playing the game. 

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