Copa America 2021 was set to have 10 teams with new format and have two participants from AFC as the guest teams, Australia and the World Cup 2022 host, Qatar. Unfortunately, such is no longer in their plan. It has been confirmed by CONMEBOL through its deputy general secretary, Gonzalo Belloso.
“The Copa America is absolutely going ahead. But Qatar and Australia, who had asked to take part, will not be able to come. The Asian confederation (AFC) has programmed World Cup qualification on the same dates as the Copa.”
Regarding the date for the fixtures related to those two Asian teams, they will be free days for the rest of the team so they will have more resting time.
Australia and Qatar are scheduled to have their qualifier fixtures on the 11th and 15th June, the same days as the beginning of Copa America 2021. Qatar still needs to join the early stage of the qualification since it has been considered for the Asian Cup 2023 in China.
This year’s Copa America is actually the delayed one from last year due to the covid-19 pandemic. It will be the first edition with two hosting nations, Argentina and Colombia. The opening match takes place in Buenos Aires on the 11th of June while the final is staged in Barraquila, Colombia on the 11th July. Those date happens to be at the same one for Euro 2021. The format is renewed as well. The normally three-group at the preliminary round is switched to two groups of five teams (six teams with the Qatar and the Socceroos before they decide to pull out). Group A will be playing in Argentina. It consists of Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia plus the host nation, Albiceleste. Group B is based in Colombia with Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela and the reigning Champions, Brasil. The first four teams of each group in the standings shall progress to the quarter final.
Copa America is one of the few major international tournaments which often changes its schedule and format. Back then the competition was held every two years till 2001. Then it changed to every three years for 2004 and 2007. CONMEBOL holds it irregularly afterwards depending on the circumstance since 2011 edition.