Football: All Whites v Belgium match to be cancelled

The All Whites have been dealt a massive blow, with their game against world No.1 Belgium to be called off.

The New Zealand men's football team were due to face the World Cup semi-finalists in Brussels on October 9, but Newshub understands NZ Football has had to cancel the fixture, due to player and staff availability.

NZF is currently going through that process with the Royal Belgium.

Last week, coach Danny Hay revealed to Newshub the challenges he face to assemble a squad for the match. With NZ, Australia and US-based players unavailable, Hay knew he would have to select from European-based professional, but many of them had also ruled themselves out.

Due to COVID-19 and quarantine restrictions in place across various countries, FIFA has relaxed rules for the September and October international windows, so clubs aren't obliged to release players as they normally are.

That has thrown the availability of even some of the European-based All Whites in doubt and means Hay would potentially face the top-ranked side in the world with an understrength team.

While that would have been a massive opportunity for those players and football-starved All Whites fans, that's understood to be one of the main reasons NZF has reluctantly opted out of the match.

What that means for the historic fixture against England at Wembley Stadium on November 13 is unclear.

Newshub understands NZ Football is still confident it will proceed and hopes some, if not all US-based players will be available.

NZ Football has been reluctant to confirm the cancellation of the Belgium match.

"As we said when the game was announced, it is provisional on the safety of our players," the organisation tells Newshub.  

"We are continuing to monitor the situation in Europe for both getting our players in and getting them home without disruption to their domestic season."