Two weeks before the theoretical kickoff of the Copa America (June 13-July 10), Neymar, Lionel Messi and other South American football stars do not know where it will take place, after Argentina’s withdrawal on Monday due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ten days after Colombia, it is Argentina’s turn to fail Conmebol, the South American Football Confederation, to organize the Copa America which was initially due to take place in 2020 before being postponed by a year, like other major sporting events (Euro, Olympic Games), due to the Covid. « La Conmebol informs that in view of the current circumstances, it has decided to suspend the organization of the Copa America in Argentina », she announced in a brief press release.
In just over a week, La Conmebol lost the two nations which were to co-organize its flagship meeting: Colombia, first, due to social unrest that has left dozens of deaths in the country and now Argentina, in the grip of a sharp increase in coronavirus contaminations.
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Argentina, yet crazy about football and passionate about the exploits of its national team led by superstar Lionel Messi, had started a few days ago to prepare the ground for his withdrawal.
Opposition of the population
The Minister of Health, Carla Vizzotti, had warned of the difficulties of such an organization as the country of 45 million inhabitants is going through the most critical period of the pandemic with more than 41,000 people infected for the single day of Thursday.
Since the start of the pandemic, Argentina has recorded 3.7 million positive cases and 77,000 deaths. In this context, the Copa America has become for many Argentines a major risk with the arrival of ten South American teams made up of players from all over the world. According to a poll published on Friday, 70% of Argentines were opposed to their country organizing the tournament, even if the authorities had planned to put in place a strict health protocol, in particular by limiting the size of the delegations.
Conmebol must now find a country willing to host the tournament at the last minute in a complicated health context and having the capacity to do so. n its press release, the South American confederation claims to have alternatives, without giving further details. She simply specified that she was analyzing « the offer from other countries which have expressed an interest in hosting the continental tournament ».
Among the possible options, Chile, as recently mentioned by an official of Conmebol, the Argentinian Gonzalo Belloso, Venezuela or Ecuador.
The American track?
But at the end of last week, the specialized press echoed a track … American. The United States of America, where the health crisis is under control due to the high vaccination rate, have already hosted the Copa America in 2016 and have the stadium capacities to host the event. This summer they are already organizing the Gold Cup, Concacaf’s flagship competition (North America, Central America and the Caribbean).
Unless the Copa 2021 is outright canceled. Some players, and not the least, are starting to express their opposition to the tournament being held.
« I am struck by the fact that the Copa America is being played despite the current situation », declared Luis Suárez, just crowned Spanish champion with Atletico Madrid, back in Uruguay to play on June 3 and 8 two qualifying matches for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
His compatriot Edinson Cavani is even more upset: « It is a terrible irresponsibility that everything is done to play these qualifying matches and the Copa America. Nothing in the social situation matters here, not even the risks linked to the virus », he asserted.
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