The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) says Colombia will no longer co-host this year’s Copa America amid civil unrest and surging coronavirus cases.
The tournament — which was due to be held jointly by Colombia and Argentina — is slated to begin on June 13, having been postponed by a year because of the pandemic.
Colombia had been scheduled to host fixtures in four cities, and the final was earmarked for Barranquilla’s Estadio Metropolitano on July 10.
“CONMEBOL guarantees the realisation of the 2021 Copa America and in the coming days will inform where the games originally allocated to Colombia will be played,” the entity said in a statement.
The announcement came just hours after Colombian sports minister Ernesto Lucena asked CONMEBOL to postpone the tournament until local coronavirus restrictions were eased to allow fans into stadiums.
CONMEBOL said it was impossible to reschedule the competition because of the tight global football calendar.
Argentine President Alberto Fernandez this week offered to stage the entire Copa America if Colombia could no longer be a co-host.
Colombia is currently grappling with a prolonged third wave of COVID-19 infections and many cities have strict nightly curfews while large public gatherings remain banned.
The health ministry has reported more than three million confirmed cases of the virus and over 83,000 fatalities.
In addition to the pandemic, the Andean country is in the midst of violent anti-government protests.
These have claimed the lives of at least 42 people since April 28, according to the attorney-general’s office.
The public body has said it is also investigating the disappearance of 134 people during the demonstrations, which continued on Thursday.
Copa Libertadores matches in Cali and Barranquilla last week were marred by images of players and officials visibly struggling with the effects of tear gas used by police to disperse protesters.(Xinhua/NAN)