Two non-South American sides Australia and Qatar have pulled out of this year’s Copa America tournament
Secretary General of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said on Tuesday that the decision followed the Asian Football Confederation, of which both Australia and Qatar are members, moving forward dates for 2022 World Cup qualifiers, creating a clash.
“Qatar and Australia will not come to play in the Copa America,” Gonzalo Belloso told Argentine radio station Radio Red.
The Copa America, the oldest tournament in international soccer, was held over from 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and is due to be hosted in two nations for the first time.
The 12 sides were to be split into northern and southern groups, with Qatar playing in the northern section against Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru, and hosts Colombia.
The Qatari FA apologised for the withdrawal which it said followed the Asian Football Confederation’s decision to postpone the joint qualifying round for the 2022 World Cup and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup to be held in June 2021, which conflicts with the schedule of matches in the Copa America.
While Qatar are World Cup hosts, they are participating in the first two rounds of qualifying because they double up as Asian Cup qualifiers. Australia were in the southern group with Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and hosts Argentina.
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By Ofhani Munyai