The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said on Sunday that Argentina will no longer host Copa America, casting a troubled football tournament into question just 13 days before it was due to begin.
The tournament, which will feature 10 countries in South America, was to be held in Argentina and Colombia from June 13 to July 10, for the first time in its 105-year history with joint hosts.
However, Colombia was removed as co-host On May 20, after a wave of protests demanding social and economic change, it spread across the country, and Argentina has now followed due to, as CONMEBOL said, “current circumstances”.
CONMEBOL has not revealed the nature of the circumstances that led to the decision, but Argentina is currently recording a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases.
“CONMEBOL analyzes the offers of other countries that have shown interest in hosting the continental tournament,” the statement said. “Updates will be released soon.”
Officials of the organization will meet on Monday to decide on further steps for the tournament, which has been held since 2020 due to the pandemic.
The startling decision on Sunday was announced just before 11pm in Argentina at the end of a weekend in which opposition to the tournament grew both inside and outside the government.
In Argentina, COVID-19 cases grew rapidly in May, prompting the government to order a strict, new lock.
A record one-day number of new cases was recorded on Thursday, and the total number of dead by the weekend reached 76,693, according to data from the World Health Organization.
Gonzalo Belloso, secretary general of CONMEBOL, said last week that the organization had spoken to Chilean officials with the aim of perhaps hosting some matches there.
The organizers do not want to interrupt the tournament due to its financial importance. The last Copa America, held in Brazil in 2019, brought in $ 118 million and was the second largest annual source of revenue after Liberators cup, the European equivalent Champions league.
This year, each competition will receive a minimum of $ 4 million, and the winner will receive an additional $ 10 million, CONMEBOL said.
CONMEBOL’s reputation has hit the organization in recent years forced to move the rematch of the 2018 Copa Libertadores final in Madrid for fan violence in Buenos Aires.