Football: All Whites' historic clash against England cancelled due to COVID-19 complications

The All Whites' historic clash against England at Wembley Stadium has been cancelled. 

England were due to host the All Whites on November 13 (NZ time), but the NZ Football has withdrawn from the fixture, due to "further travel and player availability complications".

The match would have been the first time New Zealand had played at the historic Wembley Stadium.

The All Whites were due to face world No. 1 Belgium earlier this month, but withdrew from that fixture for the same reasons. 

NZ Football chief executive Andrew Pragnell says the game could "potentially jeopardise" players' careers, if it went ahead.

"It is not an action taken lightly," he says. "This is a match we all wanted to play

"However, as it stands, of the last All Whites squad selected for the November 2019 tour - even excluding the New Zealand-based players - a significant number of the team would be subject to quarantine or restrictions on their return home.

"This would heavily disrupt their domestic seasons and potentially jeopardise their professional careers.

"The shifting nature of travel restrictions and commercial flight availability under COVID means that we do not have certainty we could assemble a squad at Wembley on this day, and defaulting on this fixture at the last minute is not an option. 

"Prior to COVID, we had a full calendar of fixtures planned for the All Whites and we have been proactive in seeking out matches for the team since the disruption, but unfortunately, it just isn't possible to make the new games we have scheduled this year happen.

"We are now looking forward to the March 2021 international window, as we begin our qualifying campaign for the FIFA World Cup 2022."

New Zealand have not played an international match since their 1-0 friendly defeat by Lithuania last November.

They were scheduled to take on Oman and Bahrain in the Middle East in March, before the coronavirus pandemic saw the games cancelled. 

All Whites coach Danny Hay.
All Whites coach Danny Hay. Photo credit: Photosport

"I'm gutted and I know the players will also be, but this is one of those situations we can't do anything about," says All Whites coach Danny Hay. 

"We always knew, when planning for these fixtures, that certain players would be unavailable, but looking at the restrictions currently in place, as well as the rising number of COVID-19 cases across Europe, it just isn't possible to put a competitive squad together.

"We all want to be playing more games, but coming up against one of the top sides in the world with a heavily understrength team doesn't do anything to help our long-term development."

The All Whites have played England twice before - both games in 1991 - at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium and Wellington's Athletic Park - England won both, 1- 0 and 2-0 respectively.

According to the Daily Mail, England are lining up a clash against Australia as a replacement for New Zealand.