4 April 2020FIFA has raised the age limit to 24 for the men’s football tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to be held next year.

The tournament is usually for under-23s, but the governing body has made the change to allow players who were eligible for the Tokyo Games this year to still take part next year.

Any player born on or after 1 January, 1997 will be able to play, plus the three allocated over-aged players.

This should come as a welcome relief for SA Olympic Team coach David Notoane, who had some players on the brink of missing out if the rule was not relaxed.

The men’s tournament will kick off before the 23 July, 2021 opening ceremony in Tokyo, while the women’s event has no age limit.

FIFA has also called off all men’s and women’s national team matches set to be played in June 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic still grips the world.

Banyana Banyana were in line to play either Malawi or Eswatini in back to back AFCON qualifiers, while Bafana Bafana were scheduled to host Ghana in the return leg of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, with Sudan taking on Sao Tome e Principe in Group C of the 2021 Cameroon AFCON qualifiers.

Already cancelled due to the threat of the Coronavirus is Match Day 3 and 4 – which was planned for March where South African Senior Men’s National Team was to play Sao Tome in back to back AFCON qualifiers.

Initial Calendar – 2020:

23 – 31 March 20:                  AFCON 2021, Match Day 3 & 4

1 – 9 June 20:                         AFCON 2021, MD 5

31 Aug – 8 Sep 20:                 AFCON 2021, MD 6

5 – 13 Oct 20:                         FIFA WC 2022, MD 1

9 – 17 Nov 20:                        FIFA WC 2022, MD 2

22 – 30 Mar 21:                      FIFA WC 2022, MD 3 & 4

30 Aug – 7 Sep 21:     FIFA WC 2022, MD 5

4 – 12 Oct 21:             FIFA WC 2022, MD 6

8 – 16 Nov 21:                        FIFA WC 2022, Knock-out Matches


Day 3: Ghana vs Sudan
S.A vs Sao Tome e Principe

Day 4: Sudan vs Ghana
Sao Tome e Principe vs S.A

Day 5: S.A vs Ghana
Sao Tome e Principe vs Sudan

Day 6: Sudan vs S.A
Ghana vs Sao Tome e Principe

The governing body had previously announced that it would not be compulsory for clubs to release players for those games, but now they have been wiped off the calendar.

It remains to be seen if the next FIFA calendar date of August/September will be utilised.

A dedicated Covid-19 working group made the decisions at their first meeting, as well as postponing the Under-20s Women’s World Cup in Panama and Costa Rica and the Under-17s Women’s World Cup in India.

Here are the recommendations from the working group:

Concerning the men’s international match calendar:

  • To postpone all international matches due to be played during the upcoming June 2020 window
  • To organise bilateral discussions with confederations concerning 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers in order to finalise a revised match schedule pending health and safety developments.

Concerning the women’s international match calendar:

  • To postpone all international matches due to be played during the upcoming June 2020 window
  • To include the new dates of the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament in the women’s international match calendar
  • To create a sub-working group on the women’s international match calendar to consider potential changes to the calendar and dates of postponed FIFA final tournaments.

Concerning FIFA competitions: 

  • To postpone the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Panama/Costa Rica 2020 – originally scheduled for August/September 2020
  • To postpone the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup India 2020 – originally scheduled for November 2020
  • New dates will be identified for the two tournaments
  • To agree that a decision concerning the FIFA Futsal World Cup Lithuania 2020 – scheduled for September 2020 – shall be made by the end of April 2020, and dates for a potential postponement shall already be considered.

Concerning the postponed Men’s Olympic Football Tournament (preliminary and final competitions of the tournament):

  • To keep the eligibility criteria originally foreseen – (players born on or after 01.01.1997 and three additional players)

Concerning football regulatory matters:

  • To support the work of the FIFA-led task force on transfer matters (composed of all key football stakeholders – confederations, member associations, leagues, clubs and players) in order for guidelines and recommendations to be issued as soon as possible

Creation of a global support fund for football:

  • To appoint one person per confederation to coordinate on this topic together with FIFA, with the working group being kept informed of developments
  • The FIFA-Confederations working group will continue to hold discussions on a regular basis as the situation evolves.