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Argentina confirm Copa America participation despite Covid fears


Buenos Aires (AFP) – Argentina on Sunday confirmed they would participate in the Copa America in neighboring Brazil despite concerns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

The country was originally due to host the continental showpiece alongside Colombia but a week ago South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL moved the tournament to Brazil. 

Argentina “confirms its participation in the Copa America, as is reflected by its sportsmanship throughout history,” said the country’s football association (AFA) in a statement.

AFA released the statement following rumors the country was going to withdraw from the competition due to the dire coronavirus situation in Brazil, where more than 470,000 people have died of Covid-19 with 17 million infected out of a 212 million population.

Argentina is also badly rocked by the pandemic having registered more than 80,000 deaths and almost four million cases in a population of 45 million.

AFA said it would provide all the “necessary tools to guarantee the specific care” needed to meet health protocols during the Copa.

Several players and coaches due to take part in the Copa have questioned whether it should go ahead.

On Wednesday, Argentina’s coach Lionel Scaloni said “it’s alarming and worrying. Brazil is not the best place.”

Chile’s Uruguayan coach Martin Lasarte described the decision to play the tournament in Brazil as “a huge, giant risk.”

Argentina’s team was due to leave for Colombia on Sunday to play a World Cup qualifier.

They drew 1-1 at home to Chile on Thursday and will play Colombia on Tuesday in Barranquilla, where the Copa America final was originally due to be played.

They sit second in the single South American qualifying table, four points behind leaders Brazil.

Stars Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero were due to travel with the squad but not goalkeeper Franco Armani, who still has coronavirus.

The Copa America begins on Sunday with new hosts Brazil taking on Venezuela in Brasilia.

Argentina’s first match against Chile will be the next day in Rio de Janeiro.

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