New Zealand Football (NZF) announces its decision to reluctantly withdraw the All Whites from its friendly international match with Japan scheduled for March 29.
The New Zealand U-17 team scheduled to play in the Sanix Cup in Fukuoka has also been withdrawn and re-routed to Doha, Qatar, to continue their preparations for the FIFA U-17 World Cup. The U-17 team was held over in Hong Kong overnight to give as much time as possible to allow the team to play in Japan.
These decisions were reached after a lengthy consultation process with Government agencies, the Professional Footballers Association, team management and staff.
The Japan Football Association (JFA) proposed moving the match venue to Osaka from Tokyo and assured NZF the city was free from any risk arising from the disaster.
NZF reviewed this information from the JFA and the New Zealand Embassy but raised concerns about the timing of the match so close to the tragedies that Japan has suffered, and the possible health and safety risk to players, staff and management, as reported by the media.
“This has been a tough decision to make but with the match just two weeks away and media reports reflecting such great uncertainty surrounding the nuclear situation in Japan we believe it is prudent to err on the side of caution and withdraw our teams,” said New Zealand Football Chairman Frank van Hattum.
“At this time emotions are running extremely high in New Zealand, and sadly the decision to proceed with a football match in this context was not feasible.”
“We are extremely grateful for the understanding of the Japan Football Association in the process of taking this decision,” he said, “our hearts continue to be with the people of Japan and everybody affected by the earthquake as they focus on this period of recovery. New Zealand Football will work as hard as possible with the Japan Football Association to examine the possibility of rescheduling the fixture for a future date.”
The All White’s match with China on March 25 is confirmed with a squad announcement to be made on March 18.
The All Whites depart for Wuhan, China on March 22.