BUENOS AIRES (AP) – This year’stournament will be played “with or without fans,” CONMEBOL President Alejandro Dominguez said Wednesday. Dominguez had said late that the tournament in Argentina and Colombia, which is scheduled to start June 13, could be in doubt because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But in an interview with The Associated Press, the South American football confederation leader pledged that the tournament will go ahead “as planned.”
It’s still unclear whetherto watch, however.
“That depends on the effectiveness of health campaigns and policies,” he said.
are on the rise in South America. Brazil’s death toll, second only to the , is expected to go past 360,000 on Wednesday. The country’s seven-day average number of on Monday at 3,124. Several state championships were suspended in Brazil because of the collapse of the .
Other countries in the region are also experiencing a, which many health analysts have blamed a potentially more contagious variant coming from Brazil.
CONMEBOL announced on Tuesday it will receive afrom Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac. Players taking part in Copa America are expected to be vaccinated, but local have said footballers will not be allowed to cut in line.
Dominguez said vaccination will not be mandatory for players.
“We are not in a position to force anyone, and we won’t do it,” he said. “We will, players, coaching staffs, the whole soccer ecosystem. It is going to be a personal decision.”
The donation will arrive in May in Uruguay, whose government negotiated the deal with Sinovac on behalf of CONMEBOL. Doming defended the decision to accept theaway from others who needed them more.
“It is not a batch that belonged to another country; it is a special batch for South American soccer made by Sinovac,” the CONMEBOL president said. “We can’t allow political opportunism for some to say this belonged to a group or to another country. This is management, we did it ourselves, and we hadand great solidarity from the company.”
However, the donation has been criticized by other soccer figures.
“Soccer is fun, entertainment. Why should I take aof essential workers just because I chair a soccer club?” Andres Rueda, president of Brazilian club Santos, told broadcaster SporTV.
Dominguez also hopes the access to vaccines will end European clubs’ concerns over allowing their players to come to South rounds scheduled for March had to be postponed as the virus spread in the region.. The two
“I am surprised that FIFA has suspended the fixtures of CONMEBOL and still has authorized fixtures in Europe,” Dominguez said. “We hope we will play in June; let’s see how we reschedule the postponed fixtures.”
AP Sports Writer Mauricio Savarese contributed to this report from Sao Paulo.
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