CONCACAF has to determine its next move after the U-17 cancellation (www.concacaf.com)

(WFI) The ball has to stop.

Widespread political violence in Nicaragua has made CONCACAF cancel its Under-17 women’s championship that started in that Central American country last Thursday.

Only six of the 12 group games had been played but four days of violent street protests against the government’s plans to increase worker contribution to social security and lower pensions.

The clashes have left at least six people dead and hundreds injured in the Nicaraguan capital, Managua.

“Concacaf determined that to guarantee the safety of the delegations, and all participants and fans, the cancellation will apply to all matches and events and take immediate effect,” the ruling body said in a statement.

The tournament serves as a qualifier for the Under-17 World Cup in a few months in Uruguay. Concacaf said it would rule on qualification procedures at a later date. 

Before the cancellation, two match days in Group A had been completed in which Mexico and Haiti clinched the top two berths with wins over host Nicaragua and Puerto Rico. The USA opened Group B with a 4-0 win over Costa Rica on Friday and was scheduled to play Bermuda on Sunday in Managua before the game was cancelled. The two semifinal winners and third-place winner will qualify for the Under-17 Women’s World Cup.

U.S. Soccer released a statement saying all U.S. players and staff in Nicaragua are “safe and secure” and the group is making arrangements for the athletes, their families and team officials to return to the United States. “Safety and security is our only priority,” the U.S. officials said.

The U-17 Women’s Championship is one of Concacaf’s newest tournaments. The confederation competition for this age group launched in 2008 in Trinidad & Tobago to qualify teams for the first-ever FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in New Zealand. Since then, the tournament has been held biennially to send three Concacaf squads to the world stage.

By INSIDER Javier Monne

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