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SPORTS | 30-05-2021 23:16

CONMEBOL says Copa América won't be hosted in Argentina

Just two weeks before the tournament is due to kick off, CONMEBOL said late Sunday night that Argentina would not host the Copa América.

With just two weeks to go before the tournament is due to kick off, CONMEBOL said late Sunday night that Argentina will not hostthe upcoming Copa América.

South American football's governing body announced the news in a post on social networks, saying that the country could not host the tournament under "present circumstances" – an allusion to the coronavirus pandemic, which is currently ravaging Argentina.

"CONMEBOL informs that in view of the present circumstances it has decided to suspend the organisation of the Copa América in Argentina," the short statement read. 

The organisation added that it was "evaluating the offer of other countries that showed interest in hosting the continental tournament."

CONMEBOL said a new host will be announced “soon.” Officials are expected to meet on Monday to decide on the next move.

Among the frontrunners to host the tournament is Chile, which has already made an offer to CONMEBOL authorities to host either the whole event or selected games.

Local outlets reported last week that CONMEBOL had received a proposal from the United States regarding hosting, submitted by its top-flight league MLS, though sources believe that offer is unlikely to be accepted.

Original hosts Argentina and Colombia have both been ruled out in the past two weeks for different reasons.

The Copa América was originally due to take place last year, but was postponed for 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Virus crisis

Opposition to the hosting of the tournament had been building in Argentina in recent weeks, with the country currently in the grip of a brutal Covid-19 second wave. President Alberto Fernández said recently that the country was in the "worst moment" of the pandemic. The Health Ministry has regularly posted daily tallies of more than 30,000 infections and 500 fatalities.

A new poll from Pollarquía published on Thursday showed that seven out of ten Argentine citizens thought the tournament should not be hosted, with the sentiment shared across all political lines.

Argentina offered to host the entire tournament after CONMEBOL stripped Colombia of co-hosting rights. President Iván Duque's government after to have the tournament postponed until the end of the year as it struggles with the pandemic and a wave of social unrest.

Last week, Argentina submitted its "strict protocol" for hosting the event to CONMEBOL during a meeting between President Alberto Fernández and the football governing body's head Alejandro Domínguez.

However, Cabinet Chief Santiago Cafiero later said that the CONMEBOL's representatives had been "quite surprised" by Argentina's demands and its strict conditions.

The pandemic has been acutely felt in local football, as well as life. The 2021 Copa de la Liga Profesional semi-finals, due to be played last weekend, were postponed until May 31 but earlier this week the government made an exception to allow its teams to take part in Copa Libertadores and Sudamericana matches.

Last week, River Plate were forced to play a Copa Libertadores match against Colombians Independiente Santa Fe with midfielder Enzo Pérez in goal after the virus infected 20 players, including all four goalkeepers. Despite only having 11 fit players, the Millo still won the match 2-1.

Argentina has recorded more than 76,000 deaths from Covid-19 and 3.7 million cases among its 45 million population.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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