The Copa America is homeless just two weeks before the start, after the South American football body CONMEBOL shut down Argentina amid an increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.
Sunday night’s announcement calls into question a tournament that has faced major obstacles since the start of the pandemic in March last year.
CONMEBOL said on Twitter – and was later confirmed by an official – that it was analyzing “the offer of other countries interested in hosting the continental tournament”, without naming them.
It is also said that a new host will be announced “soon”.
The Copa America is scheduled to be played between June 13 and July 10. The South American teams are already training for the tournament and this week they start two rounds of qualifications for the World Cup.
Like other continental tournaments, Copa America was originally scheduled for 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced a postponement. But the difficulties have intensified as the virus continues to hit the region hard and the spread of vaccines remains slow.
Argentina is facing an influx of coronavirus infections, with austerity measures imposed last weekend amid a seven-day average of 35,000 cases and 500 deaths. More than 77,000 people have died in the country from the disease as the virus continues to spread.
Colombia dropped out as an accomplice in the tournament on May 20th during a wave of protests against President Ivan Duque. Argentine President Alberto Fernandez said last week that his country was ready to host the entire tournament following the decision to eliminate Colombia. But on Sunday, that situation changed.
“It is very difficult to play the Copa America in Argentina due to the epidemiological situation of alarm,” said Vado de Pedro, the country’s interior minister, in an interview with C5N television.
The original idea of this Copa America was to start a new format with five teams based in each of the host countries. Group A includes Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay; Group B includes Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela. The top four teams in each group would advance to the knockout phase, with the final initially to be played in Colombia’s Barranquilla.
This would be the first Copa America to host two countries. Qatar, the hosts of the 2022 World Cup and Australia, who both had to play as guests, decided to retire in February due to the coronavirus pandemic.