Colombia lose co-hosting rights of Copa America 2021 following civil unrest
The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) have announced that Colombia will no longer co-host the Copa America 2021 alongside Argentina. The decision comes amidst the widespread protests against the government in the country.
The 2021 edition was supposed to mark the first time in 105 years that the Copa America would be jointly hosted by two member nations.
Colombia, who last hosted the competition in 2001, were expected to share hosting duties with Argentina but the extent and nature of the civil unrest compelled the CONMEBOL to announce the withdrawal. The relocation of the games will be announced in the coming days.
The decision to move games out of Colombia brings back memories from the 1980s when the South American nation was forced to give up the hosting rights of the 1986 FIFA World Cup, which was later held in Mexico.
The Copa America 2021 was due to kick off in Buenos Aires on June 13 and culminate with the final in the Colombian city of Barranquilla on July 11. Originally a 12-team competition, invited guests Qatar and Australia pulled out after the change in tournament dates.
The co-hosting model was based around a northern group in Colombia featuring Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil, Peru and Venezuela and a southern group playing in Argentina featuring the host nation, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
The civil unrest has been ongoing in Colombia since April after the government tried to implement a controversial tax plan. This also led to continental cup matches being moved from Colombia to Paraguay and Ecuador.
With Colombia no more a co-host, there is a strong possibility that Chile, back-to-back winners in 2015 and 2016, will be announced as the new co-host nation.
Featured photo: AFP / Daniel Munoz