KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — The Asian Football Confederation says it has been informed by the Macau Football Association that its national team will not travel to Sri Lanka for a 2020 World Cup qualifier on Tuesday at Colombo.
Although the AFC statement did not give a reason, soccer officials in Macau said they were concerned over the team’s safety following the deadly terrorist attacks in the country. On April 21, three churches in Sri Lanka and three luxury hotels in Colombo were targeted in coordinated terrorist suicide bombings which killed 358 people.
The Macau FA said it decided not to send a team “due to the recent terrorist attack in Sri Lanka and for the sake of the team’s personal safety.” The MFA said it asked FIFA, the AFC and Sri Lanka’s footballing authorities to switch the match to a neutral venue.
“MFA will have to put our players’ personal safety as a priority … we cannot afford to take the risk to put our players’ lives in danger,” the weekend statement said.
The Football Federation of Sri Lanka said it “fulfilled all security requirements” with FIFA and the AFC ahead of the match, and it had a right to play the return match at home. Macau won the first leg 1-0 in Macau.