The Socceroos will not participate in this year’s Copa America after the coronavirus pandemic forced changes to their 2022 World Cup qualifying schedule
- Australia and Qatar were invited to participate in the South American tournament
- The Socceroos’ next World Cup qualifier will take place on March 30 in Nepal
- Copa American will take place from June 11 in Argentina and will finish on July 10 in Colombia
Australia’s withdrawal comes after the Asian Football Confederation moved forward several international dates.
The tournament, which will be hosted by Argentina and Colombia in June and July, would have been Australia’s first appearance at Copa America as one of two guest nations along with Qatar.
The Socceroos’ next World Cup qualifier will take place on March 30 in Nepal, before the second round gets underway in June, with the remaining three matches potentially played on home soil.
Football Australia chief executive James Johnson expressed his regret about withdrawing from the oldest tournament in international soccer.
“It is with great disappointment that Australia cannot feature at the Copa America in 2021,” Johnson said.
“Regrettably, the international football calendar, including our FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification schedule, has been significantly disrupted over the past 12 months by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“On behalf of the Australian football community, I would like to thank CONMEBOL for their warm invitation to the tournament, as well as their continued dialogue regarding our participation over the past year. We would also like to thank AFC and FIFA which supported our invitation to the tournament in 2019.
“To have participated in such a prestigious competition and to experience the unique South American football culture would have been a thrill for Australian players, staff and fans alike. We wish CONMEBOL every success in the delivery for the Copa America and remain hopeful for an opportunity to participate in future editions of the competition,” he said.
Socceroos head coach Graham Arnold echoed his disappointment.
“The Socceroos’ players and staff were greatly looking forward to the unique opportunity of playing in the Copa America and it is unfortunate that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be unable to attend in 2021,” Arnold said.
“On behalf of the team, I thank CONMEBOL for the invitation, which would have presented our team with a fantastic opportunity to test itself against some of the world’s best.”
The 47th edition of the Copa America tournament will kick off on June 11 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and will finish on July 10 in Barranquilla, Colombia.