FIFA has recommended all upcoming internationals be postponed ©Getty Images

FIFA has recommended postponing all upcoming international matches, including World Cup qualifiers and Euro 2020 playoffs, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

World football's governing body has also relaxed rules which force clubs to release players to their national teams in light of the outbreak of COVID-19.

FIFA said all impending internationals should be called off to "avoid any unnecessary health risks and also situations of potential sporting unfairness".

Qualifiers in Asia and South America for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, scheduled for the March 23 to 31 international window, have already been postponed.

The Asian Football Confederation also postponed a round of qualifiers that had been due to take place in June because of the virus, which has so far killed more than 5,400 people and infected in excess of 146,000 worldwide.

Playoffs for UEFA Euro 2020, set to be held on March 26 and 31, are also likely to be impacted.

Playoffs for the UEFA European Championship seem set to be postponed because of the virus outbreak ©Getty Images
Playoffs for the UEFA European Championship seem set to be postponed because of the virus outbreak ©Getty Images

UEFA is holding a crunch meeting on Tuesday (March 17) to decide the fate of its competitions, including a possible postponement of Euro 2020 to next year.

Among the other options being considered is holding the playoffs in the slot traditionally reserved for pre-tournament friendlies.

The outbreak could have further implications for World Cup qualifying owing to the lack of space to reschedule matches on a congested international calendar.

"In consultation with the confederations and relevant stakeholders, FIFA will be studying the possibilities for rescheduling any postponed matches and is confident that with goodwill and flexibility from all sides, appropriate solutions will be found to allow the matches to take place in due course and with minimal disruption," FIFA said in a statement.

The virus outbreak has caused significant disruption to sport and dozens of events have been postponed or cancelled.

Domestic football leagues across the world, including England's Premier League and Spanish top flight La Liga, have been suspended in a bid to curb the spread of the virus.