Shanghai Port out of Champions League due to COVID lockdown

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Chinese club Shanghai Port has been forced by the city’s COVID-19 lockdown to withdraw from the Asian Champions League, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said on Monday.

Due to travel restrictions in the city, which has experienced record levels of infection in recent weeks, Port was unable to make the trip to Thailand for six Group J games.

It’s first game was scheduled to be on Saturday against Vissel Kobe of Japan.

“The AFC acknowledged the travel restrictions faced by Shanghai Port FC as a result of the recent lockdown measures enforced in Shanghai,” the AFC said in a statement.

Port will not be replaced in its group, which leaves Kobe, Kitchee of Hong Kong and Chiangrai United of Thailand competing to reach the second round.

Port, a semifinalist in 2017, is the second Chinese team to pull out of the competition after Changchun Yatai withdrew last month.

No official reason was given for that decision but, according to local reports, Changchun was concerned about the financial costs involved in overseas travel.

Shandong Taishan and Guangzhou FC are China’s remaining representatives, though both have sent weakened teams as the Chinese Super League season is scheduled to start later this month.

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