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SPORTS | 09-04-2019 12:44

Copa América's organisers hope shorter trips prove successful

World Cup matches were played all across Brazil five years ago, forcing some teams to travel on average 7,500 miles in one month.

The long distances travelled by teams and fans during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil are not part of the legacy carrying over to this year's Copa América, organisers say.

World Cup matches were played all across Brazil five years ago, forcing some teams to travel on average 7,500 miles (12,070 kilometres) in one month.

Copa América 2019 organisers have opted to stage all 26 games of the 12-team tournament being played June 14 to July 7 in five cities in the eastern portion of the country: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and Porto Alegre.

Organisers believe that shorter flights between the cities will be a key to a successful competition for both players and supporters.

"We didn't want athletes to travel more than three hours between host cities, we want to preserve their physical recovery and the quality of the game," organising committee general-director Thiago Jannuzzi told The Associated Press in an interview by email Monday. "We also took into account the fact that these chosen stadia have staff that frequently operates in soccer matches or other events, like music concerts."

The largest travel distance will be the 2,000 miles (3,000 kilometres) between Porto Alegre in the south and Salvador in the northeast. The longest flight from Porto Alegre during the World Cup was 3,000 miles (4,900 kilometres) to Manaus.

Rio's Maracanã Stadium, São Paulo's Arena Corinthians, Belo Horizonte's Mineirão Stadium and Salvador's Fonte Nova all hosted World Cup matches and will do so again.

São Paulo's Morumbi Stadium, site of the tournament's opening game, and Arena do Grémio in Porto Alegre were not used in 2014. They were chosen this time because they are modern and will not demand much adaptation.

Arena do Grémio opened in 2012, while the Morumbi Stadium has not needed any recent major renovations even though it opened in 1960.

Jannuzi said "there will be no constructions for the tournament; the organisation will not bring costs."

"We will only make tiny adjustments with temporary installations in the stadia," he said without citing specifics.

Security is another focus of organisers with fans from 95 countries having bought match tickets.

Last week, supporters of Uruguay's Peñarol and Brazil's Flamengo clashed in Rio before their teams' Copa Libertadores match. In addition, Argentina's own "barrabravas" are a major concern for authorities when they travel.

With attacks among hardcore fans linked to criminal organisations rife in Brazil, Jannuzzi said those with a history of violence will be monitored by police.

"A control policy will be made when we have full knowledge about where these groups are going and what is their possible intent," Januzzi said without giving further details.

by BY MAURICIO SAVARESE, AP

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