Copa America 2021, which was set to be held solely in Argentina after co-host Colombia was stripped off its rights as hosts due to a national unrest in the country, is now under the loom as the Coronavirus pandemic in coastal country is becoming bleaker as the days go by.
(Image Courtesy: CONMEBOL / Website)
Although, President Alberto Fernandez had relayed to the media on 16th May that the country was ready to host the tournament fully by itself, with stadiums in Cordoba, Santiago del Estero, Mendoza and Buenos Aires being readied.
This was confirmed four days later but the pandemic, which has ravaged the whole world, is still on the up in Argentina and has claimed 75,000 deaths till date.
WHY WAS COLOMBIA STRIPPED OFF THE RIGHTS?
Protests emerged in the country due to the announcement of the country’s new regressive tax reform, which is now withdrawn, by far-right President Ivan Duque.
A national strike has been called upon by students, workers, trade unions, left-wing parties, social movements, indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, and feminist collectives and this has gone onto become one of the largest mobilizations in Colombia’s history.
Protests have been going since a month in Colombia, with people from all masses joining in the demonstrations. (Image Courtesy: BBC / Website)
Protests have reached to a level fans gathered outside the stadiums during recent league matches with Tear gas being fired which has led to the discomfort of players and calls from coaches and officials to settle the issue.
Tournaments like the Copa Libertadoes had to either be played under these severe conditions or else get postponed until the situation subsided in Colombia and subsequently the country was removed as the hosts of the Copa America.
WHAT IS HAPPENING IN ARGENTINA?
Earlier when Colombia were stripped off the rights to hosting, Argentina and its football federation came forward to host the Copa America in its entirety and that was officially announced by the nation’s President on 16th May.
But the condition has been becoming more and more severe due to the rise of the of new strains of the Coronavirus and its deadly impact on the citizens of the country.
Argentine government stops local football, Copa America not at risk. https://t.co/TYYc7PG2bL
— Roy Nemer (@RoyNemer) May 21, 2021
And on Friday, 21st May, the Argentina Football Association (AFA) had officially suspended all professional tournaments as a lockdown was imposed on the country, just three weeks before the start of the continent’s biggest tournament.
However, President Fernandez had announced that the lockdown is applicable till 30th May and that they will try their level best to conduct the tournament safe and sound.
OTHER POTENTIAL HOSTS OR POSTPONEMENT?
When Colombia was stripped off the rights as hosts of the Copa America, CONMEBOL had said in their statement that they were looking at other nations who were willing to co-host the tournament with Argentina.
Here's the entire statement from CONMEBOL on the decision to move Copa América games out of Colombia next month pic.twitter.com/Q7CiVbGNLI
— Grant Wahl (@GrantWahl) May 21, 2021
Later, they went ahead with Argentina as the sole hosts of the tournament but the recent situation in the country has forced the continent’s federation to rethink over their decision to go ahead with Argentina as the hosts or shift the tournament to a new host country(ies).
Although it is not easy logistically to change the hosts in a small period of time, there is no other feasible option in front of CONMEBOL unless they postpone the tournament for the second time as hold it at a later stage in the future.
But that situation gives rise to a new problem – where is the time to host it? It cannot be hosted next year’s summer as there is World Cup to be held while it is near impossible to conduct it in the winter when the major leagues are in full force.
Countries such as Venezuela and Ecuador have come forward to host the tournament but their capability is still under questioned as they haven’t held a major tournament before.
Brazil can be removed with ease from the list as they are the worst-hit country in South America due to the Coronavirus pandemic. That leaves Uruguay and Chile as the nations which have the capability of hosting the Copa America.
But will they come forward? Only time will tell…