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Swine Flu Cancels Tournaments Across the Continent

Soccer Community Safegaurds against H1N1 Virus

May 13, 2009

The first two domestic matches of 2009 for the U.S. Women’s National Team were cancelled after Japan decided not to travel to the United States or Canada, citing concerns with the swine flu (H1N1) virus. Meanwhile, Malaysian soccer officials have canceled next month's Intercontinental Cup U-23 tournament due to the threat of the virus.

This comes just a few weeks after CONCACAF cancelled the remainder of the Under-17 Championship in Tijuana and the second-leg of the CONCACAF Champions League final.

The U.S. women’s team was to face the Japanese in two games, one at Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas on May 20 and another at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah, on May 23. Japan was also scheduled to play Canada on May 25 at BMO Field in Toronto.

“This is an unfortunate situation, but one that we had absolutely no control over,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “We have been assured that the risk to the participating teams is exceptionally low, but we accept the Japanese Federation’s decision not to travel.”

The Football Association of Malaysia canceled the eight-team tournament after consulting with the nation's Health Ministry, the New Straits Times reported.

Among the teams which had been expected to contest the June 1-14 tournament were Brazil, Mexico and South Korea, which have each confirmed cases of swine flu.

"The cancellation of the Intercontinental Cup is due to the threat posed by the influenza virus outbreak which has affected several countries," the Football Association of Malaysia said in a statement.

"FAM referred the matter to the Health Ministry, and after close consultation with various parties, a conclusion to cancel the tournament was reached as the well-being of those involved comes first."

Three weeks ago, CONCACAF General Secretary Chuck Blazer called off the U17 championships to try and safeguard the health of players, officials and fans.

The number of countries reporting swine flu cases stands at 31, with the World Health Organization confirming about 4,800 cases. At least 61 people have been killed by swine flu around the world: 56 in Mexico, three in the U.S., one in Canada and one in Costa Rica.

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