Australia, Qatar withdraw from Copa America

Australia and Qatar have withdrawn from this year’s Copa America due to a clash with 2022 Asian World Cup qualifiers, an official of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said.

Both the teams had been invited to participate as the guests in the tournament, scheduled be held in Colombia and Argentina from June 11 to July 10.

“Qatar and Australia will not be able to come because there will be qualifying rounds in their continents on those dates,” CONMEBOL Secretary General Gonzalo Belloso on Tuesday told Argentine radio station La Red, Xinhua reported.

Australia had been drawn in Group A alongside Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Chile and Paraguay while Qatar were placed in Group B with reigning champions Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru.

Belloso said the competition would not be modified, apart from the reduced number of fixtures.

Originally scheduled for 2020, the 47th edition of the Copa America was postponed by a year because of Covid-19.

It will mark the first time the world’s oldest international football tournament will be hosted in the two countries.

Despite the ongoing pandemic, Belloso said there was no chance the competition would be cancelled and expressed hope that fans could attend matches.

“The Copa America is 100 percent confirmed. The idea is that it will be played with stadiums at 30 per cent capacity,” he added.