Colombia calls for postponement of Copa America – Minister of Sports
Colombia, hit by the protest, will ask the Confederation of South American Football (CONMEBOL) to postpone the Copa America tournament until spectators can be present in the stadiums, Sports Minister Ernesto said on Thursday. Lucena.
The tournament, which is set to kick off in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires on June 13, is set to take place in two countries for the first time in its 105-year history.
Fifteen games are scheduled for Colombia – including the final in Barranquilla on July 10 – and 13 games are scheduled for Argentina.
Earlier this week, Argentina offered to host the entire tournament amid weeks of anti-government protests in Colombia that killed at least 15 people.
Tear gas fired outside some stadiums in recent matches has resulted in discomfort for players and condemnation of coaches and officials. CONMEBOL has already transferred some games from Colombia to Paraguay and Ecuador.
Protests that began in late April, originally against a now canceled tax plan, have led to food and gasoline shortages and dragged down exports, the government said. Protest demands have broadened to include calls for a basic income, an end to police violence and opportunities for young people. Read more
Although Colombian President Ivan Duque has ordered security forces to lift blockades put in place by protesters, it is estimated that 43 roads are still blocked in 17 of Colombia’s 32 provinces.
The unions called for other major protests on May 26 and 28.
“The Colombian government will officially ask the South American Football Confederation, through the Colombian Football Federation, to postpone the Copa America,” Lucena said in a statement. “We think the most important thing about an event of this magnitude is audience participation.”
“Right now, the inability to have an audience will mean the Copa is not the event we all dream of.”
The event is expected to be postponed until the stadiums can fill at least 50% of their capacity, Lucena said, adding that it could be possible by the end of the year.
The final decision rests with CONMEBOL, which is expected to make an announcement later on Thursday.
This year’s Copa America was originally scheduled for 2020, but has been suspended due to the spread of COVID-19.
South America has been hit hard by the pandemic, with the deaths of more than 444,000 people in Brazil, and further outbreaks causing dismay in Argentina and Uruguay, among others.
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