The 2021 Copa America is all set to take place in Brazil instead of Argentina from 13th June to 11th July after Argentina was stripped of hosting the tournament just 2 weeks before the start.
The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said Argentina was removed as the host because the country is currently experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Late on Monday, CONMEBOL confirmed that the 2019 Copa America winners – Brazil – would host the tournament instead, which starts on 13th June.
The defending champions will be licking their lips at the opportunity to retain the title given that it will now be home games for the Selecao. Brazil are also the holders of the most Copa America titles with 9 and will want to make it 10 this year.
No stadiums have been confirmed as hosts yet by CONMEBOL but the green signal for the Copa America in Brazil has already been given so it will just be a matter of time.
“CONMEBOL thanks the President @jairbolsonaro and his team, as well as the Brazilian Football Confederation for opening the doors of that country to what is today the safest sporting event in the world. South America will shine in Brazil with all its stars!” – CONMEBOL announced on Twitter.
¡Brasil recibirá a la CONMEBOL @CopaAmerica 2021! El mejor fútbol del mundo llevará alegría y pasión a millones de sudamericanos. La CONMEBOL agradece al Presidente @jairbolsonaro y su equipo, así como a la Confederación Brasileña de Fútbol @CBF_Futebol,
— CONMEBOL.com (@CONMEBOL) May 31, 2021
Argentina was originally set to co-host with the event Colombia, who were removed on 20th May itself given the widespread protests in the country.
Opposition to the tournament had grown both inside and outside Argentina’s government, while Uruguay striker Luis Suarez told reporters on Friday that priority had to be given “to the health of human beings”.
On 22nd May, Argentina went into a new nine-day lockdown after seeing 35,000 new cases each day that week.
Meanwhile, in Brazil, protests over the management of the Covid-19 pandemic by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro took place on Saturday.
Brazil has registered nearly 460,000 deaths – the second-highest toll in the world after the United States. It also has the third-highest number of recorded coronavirus cases at more than 16 million.
Brazil’s Senate is holding an inquiry into the Bolsonaro government’s handling of the pandemic and the slow roll-out of the vaccine programme.
Copa America seems more challenging for CONMEBOL and although approvals have been given for conducting the tournament in Brazil, there is no guarantee as to whether or not it will truly go through with less than 2 weeks to go for South America’s biggest competition.