St. Lucia has withdrawn from qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
FIFA made the announcement Thursday, when St. Lucia was to have played Nicaragua in the delayed start of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean.
Nicaragua, Haiti and Belize remain in Group E; the group winner faces a team from Group B — Canada, Aruba, Bermuda, Cayman Islands or Suriname — in a two-match playoff for a berth in the eight-nation regional final round that starts in September and will produce three qualifiers.
FIFA did not announce a reason for the withdrawal, saying in a statement that “further details will follow in due course.”
St. Lucia, a Caribbean island nation ranked 175th, is the first of 211 nations to withdraw from qualifying, which has been reconfigured due to the coronavirus pandemic. Host Qatar is guaranteed a berth, and the other nations are competing for 31 slots in the tournament, to be played from Nov. 21 to Dec. 18 next year.
FIFA’s disciplinary committee may impose sanctions for a withdrawal, but sanctions usually are contemplated in the event of a boycott.
More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports