February 24 – Australia and Qatar, the two non-South American teams due to take part in this year’s Copa America, have pulled out of the competition – the oldest in international football – because of scheduling conflicts caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
The decision by Qatar and Australia came after the Asian Football Confederation, of which both are members, pushed back dates for the joint qualifying round for the World Cup and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.
Qatar is also scheduled to compete at Concacaf’s Gold Cup in July/August as a guest though a calendar clash looks unlikely for this event.
The two nations were set to join the 10 from Conmebol for the June-July competition that is being hosted jointly by Argentina and Colombia after being postponed from last year.
Other guest teams have already expressed interest in replacing the pair, Conmebol spokesman Ariel Ramirez told The Associated Press.
“There is a calendar issue that stopped Australia and Qatar, but we have already seen interest from other national teams to play as guests in their place. We would like to have 12 teams,” Ramirez said, adding that Copa America will be played with 10 teams, as usual, if no replacements are found.
Australia would have been in Group A with Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia, and Qatar in Group B with Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil and Perú.
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