(Reuters) – This year’s Copa America will go ahead with only 10 teams, the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said on Monday, as it abandoned plans to replace Australia and Qatar, the two sides who withdrew due to fixture congestion.
“As is traditional, CONMEBOL invited teams from other confederations,” the body said in a statement. “However, the suspended matches and delays brought about by the pandemic that affected world football impeded other nations from participating.”
CONMEBOL had considered inviting other countries to replace Australia and Qatar but appear to have been defeated by the large number of games that now must be squeezed into an already packed schedule.
This year’s Copa America was held over from 2020 and is the first in its 105-year history to be held in two nations, Colombia and Argentina.
Bolivia, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and Argentina play in a southern group, with the opening match between Argentina and Chile kicking off in Buenos Aires on June 13.
Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, Peru and Colombia play in the northern section, with the final taking place in the Colombian city of Barranquilla on July 10.
The top four teams from each group will qualify for the quarter-finals.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Christian Radnedge)