Coronavirus: Conmebol postpone 2021 Copa America

March 18 – Just like its European equivalent, South America’s flagship tournament, the Copa America, has been postponed from this year to 2021 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Conmebol said the tournament in Colombia and Argentina will now be played between June 11 and July 11 next year – on exactly  the same dates as the postponed 12-city European Championship.

“It is an extraordinary measure for an unexpected situation, and it answers the fundamental need to avoid an exponential development of the virus, which is already present in all countries that are members of the confederation,” CONMEBOL President Alejandro Domínguez said in a statement.

“We also thank UEFA and its president, Aleksander Čeferin, for the joint work and the coordinated decision to also postpone Euro 2020 for the benefit of all the soccer family.”

“It wasn’t easy to take this decision but we must safeguard at all times the health of our players and all those who form part of the big South American football family,” he added. “Have no doubts that the oldest international tournament in the world will be back stronger than ever in 2021.”

This year’s Copa was due to be held in two countries for the first time in its 104-year history, with a northern group set for Colombia and a southern group due to be played in Argentina. In addition to the 10 South American nations, Australia and Qatar were also invited.

The northern group comprised Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Qatar. The southern group featured Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Australia. The tournament was scheduled to kick off in Buenos Aires on June 12, with the final in Barranquilla, Colombia on July 12.

The 2020 edition was set to be the fourth in six years but was about to enter a new era as Conmebol sought to bring it into line with the European Championship. This year’s tournament was supposed to be the last until 2024 as it becomes a regular quadrennial event.

The postponement of the Copa made it almost inevitable that FIFA would have to call off its much-trumpeted expanded Club World Cup, also set for next year in China.

The competition would have been a non-starter without the best European and South American stars and is now being rescheduled too pending today’s talks between FIFA and the stakeholders involved.

Meanwhile the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has postponed next month’s African Nations Championship (CHAN), the Continent’s second-tier tournament, over similar concerns.

The fate of CHAN, for African players based in their own countries, had been in doubt after defending champions Morocco pulled out, while host nation Cameroon had already asked Caf for a delay.

The 16-team tournament is held every two years and is restricted to home-based players only. It had been set to run between 4-25 April but CAF said their emergency committee had decided to postpone it “until further notice.”

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