El Salvador asks to play qualifier in US amid virus surge

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador — The head of El Salvador’s soccer federation said Wednesday he will ask CONCACAF to allow his country to play its Sept. 2 World Cup qualifier against the U.S. team in the United States.

The match has been scheduled to be played in El Salvador, but the country’s congress voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to impose a 90-day ban on sporting events, concerts, festivals and other mass gatherings because of a surge in coronavirus cases.

“If it can’t be played in our country because of COVID. We could change our matches to the United States,” Hugo Carrillo, head of the country’s soccer federation, told journalists.

The Sept. 2 match would be the first of 14 through March for the eight nations trying to secure the three guaranteed World Cup berths from North and Central America and the Caribbean. American players are to gather in Nashville, Tennessee, on Aug, 31 before heading to the match. They also play Canada on Sept. 5 in Nashville and at Honduras on Sept. 8.

Officials in El Salvador reported 2,284 news coronavirus cases in the first 10 days of July, 35% more than in the same period of June.

El Salvador has so far received enough coronavirus vaccine doses to cover about half of the country’s 6.5 million people. The country has registered 81,644 coronavirus infections and 2,457 COVID-19 deaths.