It’s been 36 years since Peru last appeared in a World Cup, and with a berth to the 2018 edition of the tournament now on the line, the country is taking no chances. According to the Professional Footballers’ Association of Peru (ADFP), from October 20th to November 15th, all domestic leagues will be suspended, so as to let the national team players train ahead of the inter-continental playoff against New Zealand.
The two legs of the playoff will be played on November 11th in Wellington, and on November 15th in Lima, at the Estadio Nacional. By suspending the Peruvian domestic leagues, the hope now is that national team coach Ricardo Gareca can use the time work with players based in Peru ahead of the games, which will be the first meeting between the two countries.
At the request of both teams, FIFA agreed to extend the international window an extra day to allow the squads to get proper rest and training after the jet lag of a long flight and a significant time difference. “With what is at stake – a place in the FIFA World Cup – we are pleased that FIFA have extended the window by a day and ensured that both teams will have a chance to travel, recover from their jet-lag and be at their best for a home and away qualifiers that will be watched around the world,” said New Zealand soccer chief executive Andy Martin in a press release.
Not only has the announcement of the playoff dates led to the suspension of the domestic league, but also to a high-profile concert moving venues. Previously, Green Day had a concert scheduled on November 15th at the Estadio Nacional, but with Peru needing the stadium for the second leg, the band and event coordinators, Move Concerts, agreed to move the show to San Marcos Stadium. “We wish the national team luck in such a historic match. Plus, we expect to see all our fans at the same venue as our 2010 gig, for the celebration,” the band said in a statement.
This isn’t the first time this month that a famous band had to adapt a concert to accommodate World Cup qualifying. Last week, U2 chose not to go on stage in Buenos Aires until Argentina’s qualifying match with Ecuador concluded. Music may bring everyone together, but in South America, nothing is bigger than soccer.