Brazil unveiled as new hosts of this year’s Copa America – despite 450,000 Covid-19 deaths there during the pandemic – just 13 DAYS after Argentina was axed over concerns over their own rising infection rate
- Brazil has been named as the new Copa America host in a surprising move
- Argentina was scheduled to host, but was dropped with the tournament in chaos
- As the Covid-19 infection rate rose, the country was gutted with scrambling organizers
- More than 450,000 people have been killed by Covid in Brazil and the move has been criticized
- Colombia has already been dropped because of the ongoing political protests there
The Copa America will now take place in Brazil in just under a fortnight after Argentina was dropped and sparked a frantic battle to find a new host.
It was revealed earlier on Monday that the rise in Argentina’s Covid-19 contamination rate forced organizers to reschedule the tournament – and the drastic move made it temporarily home away from home.
The showpiece, with 10 South American countries, was set to take place in Argentina and Colombia between June 13 and July 10, but the concept of joint hosts has failed and the latter has also been dropped.
Brazil was named to host the Copa America less than two weeks before the showpiece kicks off
Colombia was removed as co-host on May 20 following a wave of protests demanding social and economic change across the country and Argentina has now been followed because of what CONMEBOL said were the ‘current conditions’.
CONMEBOL did not disclose the nature of the circumstances that led to the decision, but Argentina is currently experiencing a surge in the number of cases.
However, this makes the decision to select Brazil to act surprising, as the country was hit by more than 450,000 Covid deaths. The rising contamination rate is also a concern there.
The specific cities and fixtures are expected to be announced in the near future now that the change of host has been ratified.
The tournament was temporarily left without a home after Argentina was dropped on Monday
It is also not known at this time on which terrain competitions will be held.
Brazil previously hosted the tournament, welcoming supporters from across the continent to their trophy-winning campaign in 2019.
A statement from CONMEBOL confirming the news read: ‘The 2021 Copa America will be played in Brazil. Tournament start and end dates have been confirmed.
‘The locations and luminaire will be informed by CONMEBOL in the coming hours. The oldest national team tournament in the world will shake the whole continent! ‘
Lionel Messi’s Argentina was dropped as a host due to the increase in Covid-19 infections
After dropping Argentina, the governing body said they were “ analyzing offers from other countries that have expressed interest ” to intervene as a host.
Officials from the organization met on Monday to decide on the next steps for the tournament, which was postponed from 2020 due to the pandemic.
Sunday’s stunning decision was announced in Argentina shortly before 11 p.m. at the end of a weekend in which opposition to the tournament grew both inside and outside the government.
Argentina saw the Covid-19 cases grow rapidly in May and prompted the government to impose a strict new lockdown.
Co-host Colombia had already been gutted amid the country’s ongoing political troubles
Thursday saw a record number of new cases in one day and the total death toll had risen to 76,693 by the weekend, according to data from the World Health Organization.
Even some players who had returned to South America to prepare for the tournament expressed doubts, with Uruguay’s Luis Suarez telling reporters on Friday: ‘We must prioritize human health’.
Gonzalo Belloso, secretary general of CONMEBOL, said last week that the organization had spoken with Chilean officials with the intention of perhaps hosting some matches there.
Organizers were reluctant to cancel the tournament due to its financial importance.
The organizers were scrambling to find a new host whose first game would start soon
The last Copa America, held in Brazil in 2019, raised $ 118 million (£ 83 million) and was the second largest annual source of income after the Copa Libertadores, the equivalent of Europe’s Champions League.
This year, each participating country will receive a minimum of $ 4 million (£ 2.8 million), while the winner will receive an additional $ 10 million (£ 7 million), CONMEBOL said.
CONMEBOL’s reputation has suffered in recent years, with the organization forced to move the second leg of the 2018 Copa Libertadores final to Madrid due to fan violence in Buenos Aires.