CONMEBOL named Brazil as the host nation of the 47th Copa America on Monday, although President Jair Bolsonaro’s chief of staff said ongoing talks might not reach a formal conclusion until the next day.
The decision was made less than 24 hours after South America’s football governing body announced Argentina would no longer stage the event that is due to start on June 13 and last until July 10.
A CONMEBOL statement read: “The CONMEBOL @CopaAmerica 2021 will be played in Brazil! Tournament start and end dates are confirmed. The venues and the fixture will be informed by CONMEBOL in the next few hours. The oldest national team tournament in the world will thrill the entire continent!”
Later on Monday, Luiz Eduardo Ramos, Bolsonaro’s chief of staff, ]said negotiations were underway and that there was “nothing certain” about the tournament’s potential relocation.
CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez said it was a unanimous decision that the council took to have Brazil as the host nation. He also thanked original co-hosts Argentina and Colombia and stated that opportunities would come along for the two countries to stage events in the future.
Brazil are the holders of the competition, having won it on home soil in 2019.
CONMEBOL cited “the present circumstances” as the reason for Argentina’s withdrawal as hosts, with the country having experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases. There were 348 deaths reported on Sunday and 21,346 new infections.
CONMEBOL, reluctant to cancel the tournament for a second successive year after the 2020 event was not held due to the pandemic, acted quickly with fewer than two weeks to go before the start of the competition.
The last Copa America, held in Brazil in 2019, brought in $118 million in revenue.
The tournament involving 10 South American countries, was originally set to be staged by Argentina and Colombia, the first time in its 105-year history to have joint hosts.
Colombia had a request to have the tournament postponed rejected by CONMEBOL and pulled out as co-hosts on May 20 due to social and economic unrest in the nation.
Although no decision has yet been made on venues, many of the stadiums Brazil built or reformed for the 2014 World Cup could be candidates to host matches, with the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro or the Mane Garrincha stadium in the capital Brasilia possible locations.
The last-minute decision also throws up some complicated questions for the Brazilian national federation (CBF). The Brazilian league was not due to be halted for the Copa America and at least 70 league games are scheduled to be played during the month-long tournament.
News reports in Brazil said Flamengo would ask the CBF to suspend the league for the duration of the Copa.
More than 460,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil, the second-highest number in the world after the U.S, and the vaccination roll-out has stuttered. But Argentina is struggling with a recent spike. According to a Reuters tally, Brazil has reported 204 infections per 100,000 people in the past seven days, compared with 484 per 100,000 in Argentina.
Lionel Messi’s Argentina are scheduled to open the tournament against Chile on Jun. 13, while Brazil begin their title defence against Venezuela one day later.
South American teams are also preparing for the 2022 World Cup qualifiers that were originally scheduled to be played in March but were postponed because of coronavirus travel restrictions.