No Postponement For Copa America, Federation Says After Colombia Withdraws


Street artists paint a graffiti reading ‘No Copa America’ at a wall of the Campin Stadium during a protest against Colombia hosting the Copa America soccer tournament in Bogota, on May 19, 2021, as the country faces its worst political and civil crisis in recent history. DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP

 

South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL on Thursday rejected a request by Colombia to postpone the Copa America 2021 tournament it is co-hosting with Argentina.

The games that were to be played in Colombia in the June 13-July 10 event will instead be moved to Argentina, CONMEBOL said, stating that it was “impossible” to move the event to November as authorities in Bogota requested.

The federation statement cited “reasons relating to the international calendar and logistics of the tournament.”


Street artists paint a graffiti reading ‘No Copa America’ at a wall of the Campin Stadium during a protest against Colombia hosting the Copa America soccer tournament in Bogota, on May 19, 2021, as the country faces its worst political and civil crisis in recent history.  DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP

 

Colombia is in the midst of a wave of street protests and social unrest that has resulted in 42 deaths. Covid-19 cases have also shot up in the last weeks.

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Large and sometimes violent anti-government demos have been taking place in Bogota, Medellin and Cali — cities where Copa America games were set to be played.

On May 13 a Copa Libertadores South American club tournament game in Barranquilla was suspended five times as clouds of tear gas used to break up demos outside the stadium wafted in and affected the players.

In Argentina, President Alberto Fernandez said earlier that his country would be ready to fully host the games if Colombia backs out.

But Argentina is dealing with the worst phase yet of the Covid-19 pandemic — and late Thursday Fernandez announced that Argentina will go into total lockdown for nine days to control the spread of the virus.


Street artists perform during a protest against Colombia hosting the Copa America football tournament outside El Campin Stadium in Bogota, on May 19, 2021, as the country faces its worst political and civil crisis in recent history. DANIEL MUNOZ / AFP

 

The Copa America tournament, like the European Championship, was due to take place last year but was postponed by 12 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Two guest nations, Australia and Qatar, pulled out of the tournament in February due to a clash with World Cup qualifying dates.

AFP

Gabriel Jesus Gets Two-Month International Ban

Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus scores the winning penalty in the shoot-out during the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 4, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Brazil forward Gabriel Jesus has been hit with a two month international ban over his dismissal in last month’s Copa America final, South America’s football governing body announced.

The 22-year-old Manchester City striker scored in the 3-1 victory over Peru that gave hosts Brazil a ninth victory in the continental showpiece, but was given his marching orders 20 minutes from time for a second booking.

He protested bitterly before eventually leaving the field in tears, making obscene hand gestures, angrily kicking a water bottle and almost knocking over the VAR booth.

“The player is suspended for official matches and friendlies with his national team during this period,” said CONMEBOL in a statement late on Wednesday.

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Jesus was also fined $30,000 and given seven days to appeal, while the Brazilian federation was hit with a $15,000 penalty for its players’ behaviour.

Jesus had been a livewire in the first half against Peru, with an outrageous drag-back creating space so he could cross for Everton to open the scoring.

With almost the last kick of the half, he restored Brazil’s lead following Peru captain Paolo Guerrero’s equaliser from the spot.

But he was left distraught after picking up a second booking for a late challenge on Peru’s Christian Cueva.

It means he will miss two friendlies in the United States next month against Colombia and Peru.

But he will be available in March when World Cup 2022 qualifying begins.

AFP

Brazil Coach Tite Tells Messi To Show Some Respect After ‘Corruption Comments’

Paraguayan referee Mario Diaz de Vivar shows the red card to Argentina’s Lionel Messi and Chile’s Gary Medel during the Copa America football tournament third-place match at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on July 6, 2019. PHOTO: EVARISTO SA / AFP

 

Brazil coach Tite told Lionel Messi to show some respect following claims from the Argentina captain that the Copa America had been “fixed” so the hosts would win.

Brazil clinched the Copa by defeating Peru 3-1 at the Maracana on Sunday but Tite felt that his side had been hard done by in some refereeing decisions and said Messi’s words had weighed on the officials.

“He has to show some respect, he must understand and accept when he’s defeated,” said Tite, whose side beat Argentina 2-0 in a controversial semi-final.

“We’ve been affected in many matches, even in the World Cup, so be very careful.

“He put a lot of pressure on because of how great a player he is.

“Everyone has their own problems and you have to be respectful.”

Messi had hit out at South American football’s governing body CONMEBOL, accusing them of “corruption” after he was sent off in Saturday’s third-place play-off in which Argentina beat Chile 2-1.

He’d also claimed after Argentina’s semi-final defeat that the tournament hosts were “managing a lot in CONMEBOL these days.”

Argentina had been angered that VAR wasn’t used on two occasions to check the validity of their claims for a penalty that hadn’t been seen by the referee.

Messi was then harshly sent off against Chile following a tangle with Gary Medel in which he seemed to do nothing wrong.

The Barcelona star claimed afterwards he had paid for his previous criticisms.

“My words had repercussions, but you must always be sincere,” he said.

Tite agreed with that, claiming that Peru’s penalty in the final — converted by their captain Paolo Guerrero — should never have been given.

“Today it wasn’t a penalty. You have to be careful and show respect, as we respect others,” said Tite.

Peru coach Ricardo Gareca, who is Argentine, agreed with the his Brazil counterpart.

“Messi is a voice of authority but that doesn’t mean I agree with what he said,” Gareca added.

Brazil midfielder Casemiro refused to be drawn on the Messi controversy, though.

“They can say what they want, we only talk about Brazil,” said the Real Madrid player.

As Brazil celebrated and posed for photos with their trophy, they were joined by the country’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, a deeply divisive figure who has been accused of making racist, sexist and homophobic comments.

As he huddled with the players, some of them chanted “Legend,” as his supporters do.

His reception from the crowd was more mixed, though, with jeers audible above many cheering fans.

Asked about the message conveyed by his team celebrating with Bolsonaro, Tite sidestepped it.

“I’m so involved with football, I know things happen, but the way I’ve been brought up is that my focus is my essence,” he said.

AFP

Brazil Defeat Peru To Win Copa America

Brazil’s Dani Alves (C) and teammates celebrates with the trophy after winning the Copa America after defeating Peru in the final match of the football tournament at Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on July 7, 2019. Carl DE SOUZA / AFP

 

Ten-man Brazil held on to win the Copa America on home soil despite Gabriel Jesus’s dismissal with a 3-1 victory over Peru on Sunday.

Jesus scored the decisive goal after a penalty from Peru captain Paolo Guerrero canceled out Everton’s opener for hosts Brazil at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium.

A last minute penalty from substitute Richarlison sealed a win for Brazil which handed the South American giants their ninth Copa triumph and first since 2007.

Jesus’s evening went sour 20 minutes from time as he was sent off for a second booking.

The Manchester City striker was in tears as he left the field, making obscene hand gestures, angrily kicking a water bottle and almost knocking over the trophy plinth.

Brazil’s players rallied after the dismissal however to claim a battling victory.

Earlier, after a minute’s silence was held for bossa nova legend Joao Gilberto — who died on Saturday — underdogs Peru made a confident start and didn’t appear overawed by either their opponents or the occasion.

But it quickly became apparent that they were up against more accomplished players.

Peru coach Ricardo Gareca had said on Saturday they needed to prevent Brazil from dominating possession, but that was easier said than done.

Individual brilliance

Brazil started to stroke the ball around commandingly, and as they did that, they looked dangerous.

Their opening goal came from a piece of individual brilliance by Jesus, whose drag back fooled two defenders, creating space for him to cross for the unmarked Everton to drill home at the back post on the quarter hour.

Brazil were in control and playing like champions elect as Roberto Firmino found space on the left and crossed for Philippe Coutinho to stab wide.

Left-winger Everton was clever with his movement in dragging the athletic right-back Luis Advincula out of position and Brazil’s left-back Alex Sandro found acres of space to put in a deep cross that Firmino headed over.

Just as it looked as if Brazil would stroll to victory, Peru went on the attack and a Christian Cueva cross hit the arm of a sliding Thiago Silva, giving Peru a penalty that was confirmed after a VAR review.

Guerrero sent goalkeeper Alisson the wrong way from 12 yards and Peru were back in it just before half-time.

But they paid for their lack of guile and experience with almost the last kick of the half as Arthur was allowed to drive at the defence from midfield following a slip from Renato Tapia that left him space to attack.

Center-back Carlos Zambano also slipped, allowing Arthur to feed Jesus in the middle of the area and the Manchester City striker made no mistake, finding the bottom corner.

Changed dynamic

Brazil had a few speculative shots at the start of the second half but Silva, Dani Alves and Coutinho all failed to hit the target.

After some wing trickery from Everton, Alex Sandro crossed but Firmino headed wide.

Brazil were in complete control at this stage as Peru could hardly string two passes together.

But the dynamic changed 20 minutes from time as Jesus was given his marching orders for a second yellow card after a late challenge on Cueva.

The onus was now on Peru to attack and Miguel Trauco brought a near post save out of Alisson while Edison Flores fizzed a volley from outside the area just wide.

But amidst a flurry of substitutions, fouls and injury stoppages, the steam went out of Peru’s efforts and they were unable to exert any sustained pressure on the hosts.

Any hopes they had were extinguished when Zambrano was adjudged to have barged over Everton in the penalty area and substitute Richarlison drilled home the spot-kick into the bottom corner.

AFP

Jesus, Firmino Send Brazil Into Copa America Final As Messi Fails Again

 

Gabriel Jesus and Roberto Firmino scored the goals as Brazil beat arch-rivals Argentina 2-0 on Tuesday to qualify for the Copa America final.

Jesus and Firmino netted a goal apiece in each half to give Brazil a victory which ensured Lionel Messi’s frustrating wait for a major international tournament title with Argentina continued.

Hosts Brazil will play the winners of Wednesday’s second semi-final between champions Chile and Peru in Sunday’s final.

It was the first time these age-old rivals had met in a major competition since Brazil beat Argentina 3-0 in the 2007 Copa final.

English-based Jesus and Firmino were the stars, each creating the other’s goal, although captain Dani Alves had a major say in the opener.

“It was another step towards our objective. We’re achieving all the goals that we’re setting ourselves,” said Alves.

“A lot of people doubt us but we have a lot of faith in ourselves, in our plan, in our hard work.

“We’re reaping the fruits of the seeds we’re sowing every day.”

But it was a miserable night for Messi, whose hopes of landing a major international honour with Argentina ended in disappointment once again.

He will get another opportunity next year, though, with the fourth Copa America in the last five years, due to be played in Argentina and Colombia.

“We should have been the team going to the final because we deserved it, no doubt about that. But sometimes football is unfair,” complained Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni.

Tackles flying

In what was always expected to be a feisty affair there were some wild early tackles flying in, and Argentina’s Nicolas Tagliafico was first to be booked for a lunge at Jesus.

The uneven pitch looked like it had been trampled by a herd of wildebeest before kick-off and both sides struggled to play flowing football.

Brazil’s Casemiro was even jeered after sending a long crossfield ball straight out of play.

The first chance came when Argentina’s Leandro Paredes let fly from 30 yards but the ball whistled just over the top of goalkeeper Alisson’s goal.

Brazil took the lead on 19 minutes after a piece of individual brilliance from Alves.

He beat three players on a mazy run before sending Firmino clear down the right with a no-look pass, the Liverpool forward crossing for the unmarked Jesus to tap home.

Two-footed lunges were flying in as the match threatened to descend from niggly to dirty.

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Argentina almost levelled on the half hour when Sergio Aguero headed Messi’s free-kick onto the bar, the ball bouncing down just in front of the line before Brazil scrambled it clear.

Messi then burst into life, driving at heart of the Brazil defense and playing in Aguero, who took advantage of a Thiago Silva slip to make space for himself but Marquinhos was quickly across to block the Manchester City striker’s shot.

Moments later, Messi beat two men on the right, won back the ball with a sliding tackle after overrunning it, but then wastefully shot high and wide.

At the other end, Arthur shot powerfully, but straight at goalkeeper Franco Armani.

Pirouetting Jesus

Argentina pushed Brazil back at the start of the second half and Aguero picked out Lautaro Martinez in the box but he didn’t catch his left-foot volley cleanly and Alisson gathered comfortably.

Another promising attacking move ended with Rodrigo de Paul blazing over from 20 yards.

But Jesus produced a beautiful piece of skill, including a pirouetting drag-back, before teeing up Philippe Coutinho who should have done better than shooting over.

Moments later, though, a blocked shot from Martinez looped over to Messi who lashed a shot from an angle against the post, with Alisson beaten.

Alisson was alert to clutch a Messi free-kick on 66 minutes that looked destined for the top corner.

By then, Scaloni had already gone for broke, bringing off midfielder Marcos Acuna and sending on speedy winger Angel Di Maria, with Messi dropping into a deeper role.

Just as Argentina looked capable of finding a way back into the match, Brazil stung them on the counter-attack with Manchester City’s Jesus getting away from two defenders and teeing up the unmarked Liverpool striker Firmino for a tap in on 71 minutes.

Scaloni threw on another forward in Paulo Dybala but there was no way back for Argentina.

AFP

Messi Penalty Rescues Argentina In COPA America

Argentina’s Lionel Messi (L) celebrates with teammate Rodrigo De Paul after scoring a penalty against Paraguay which was awarded by the VAR after a hand in the area during their Copa America football tournament group match at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, on June 19, 2019. PHOTO: Luis ACOSTA / AFP

 

A Lionel Messi penalty salvaged a 1-1 draw for Argentina against Paraguay on Wednesday as the two-time world champions once again struggled at the Copa America.

Messi swept in a 57th-minute spot-kick at Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao Stadium to cancel out a first-half opener from Paraguay’s Richard Sanchez.

Argentina also had goalkeeper Franco Armani to thank for a second-half penalty save that prevented Paraguay from taking a 2-1 lead in the Group B battle.

The draw left Argentina with one point from two games and on the bottom of the table with one game remaining.

However, with the two best third-placed teams advancing to the quarter-finals, Argentina can still reach the last eight with a decisive win over Qatar in their final group game.

“We have to win,” Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni said of his team’s date with Qatar. “We will take stock of what we did well and what we did not do well and we will make decisions. We are lucky that we are still alive in this tournament,” added Scaloni, singling out goalkeeper Armani for special praise.

“We trust Franco,” Scaloni said. “He is our starting goalkeeper. He saved a penalty and kept us alive. I’m glad he had a good performance.”

The South American giants will need to raise their game however to advance any further after another disjointed performance which followed their opening defeat to Colombia on Saturday.

A lackluster opening saw both sides struggle to generate any sort of attacking momentum, with neither side managing to get a shot on goal until Paraguay striker Derlis Gonzalez’s effort was deflected behind for a corner in the 29th minute.

From the ensuing setpiece, center-half Junior Alonso scooped a half-chance wide as Argentina escaped.

 Penalty drama

That flurry of activity spurred Argentina fleetingly at the other end, with Lautaro Martinez winning a free-kick in a dangerous position on the edge of the area after a foul by Paraguay skipper Gustavo Gomez.

Messi, however, was unable to conjure anything from the free-kick, floating his effort up and over the wall but without the pace to trouble goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez, who gathered comfortably.

In the 37th minute, however, Paraguay’s more organised performance got its reward.

A swift counter-attack saw the ball transferred to Newcastle United’s Miguel Almiron near halfway.

The livewire forward turned on the after-burners to roast Roberto Pereya down the left wing before crossing for Sanchez who drove a low finish into the bottom corner of the Argentina net.

A rattled Argentina were given a huge let-off moments later when Armani came racing out of his area to shut down Gonzalez.

A wild kick brought down the Paraguayan player but Armani somehow escaped a red card and was only cautioned.

Scaloni went for broke at half-time, bolstering his attack with the introduction of Sergio Aguero and the move paid instant dividends.

Aguero deftly lost his marker on 51 minutes and pulled back for Martinez, whose shot cannoned off the woodwork. Messi pounced on the rebound but Fernandez blocked with a diving save.

The chance appeared to have gone begging but VAR had spotted that Martinez’s shot had, in fact, struck Ivan Piris’s arm before hitting the bar and Brazilian referee Wilson Sampaio pointed to the spot.

Messi stepped up to sweep in the spot-kick and Argentina were level.

Yet there was more drama in the 62nd minute when Paraguay’s Gonzalez burst into the box and was clumsily hacked down by Nicolas Otamendi for a clear penalty.

Armani, who was fortunate to be on the pitch, dived the right way and parried Gonzalez’s spot-kick wide.

AFP

Maradona Wants Messi To Rescind Retirement Decision

Lionel-Messi-Copa-America-ArgentinaDiego Maradona has pleaded with Lionel Messi not to go through with his retirement from international football, following Argentina’s Copa America final loss to Chile.

After losing his fourth final for his country, an emotional Messi indicated his time with the national team was up, but Maradona has attempted to persuade the Barcelona forward to think carefully about his future.

He believes Messi should play on until at least the 2018 FIFA World Cup and also called on his teammates to help the 5-time world player of the year strike gold in Russia.

The 29-year-old announced his retirement from international duty after missing in a penalty shootout as the Argentinians lost a fourth major final in nine years.

“For me, the national team is over. I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion,” the Argentinian captain said on BBC.

He side it has been four finals, saying he had tried to win the title but to no avail.

“It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over.

“It’s very hard, but the decision is taken. Now I will not try more and there will be no going back,” he maintained.

Messi has played 113 times and scored 55 goals since his debut for Argentina in 2005 while he has an Olympic gold at the 2008 Games as his only major international honour.

Messi Laments Copa America Title Loss, Bows Out Of Argentina Duty

Lionel-Messi-Copa-America-ArgentinaLionel Messi says “It hurts not to be a champion” after Argentina lost to Chile 4-2 on penalties after a goalless draw in the Copa America final.

The 29-year-old announced his retirement from international duty after missing in a penalty shootout as the Argentinians lost a fourth major final in nine years.

“For me, the national team is over. I’ve done all I can. It hurts not to be a champion,” the Argentinian captain said on BBC.

He side it has been four finals, saying he had tried to win the title but to no avail.

“It was the thing I wanted the most, but I couldn’t get it, so I think it’s over.

“It’s very hard, but the decision is taken. Now I will not try more and there will be no going back,” he maintained.

Messi has played 113 times and scored 55 goals since his debut for Argentina in 2005 while he has an Olympic gold at the 2008 Games as his only major international honour.

FIFA Ranking: Belgium Emerge No 1 As Nigeria Drop 7 Places

FIFA RankingBelgium has emerged on top of the FIFA world ranking for the first time in history.

The red devils jumped two places to replace previous leaders Argentina who dropped to 3rd, place and world champions Germany on the 2nd spot.

The biggest climbers in the top ten are Chile on the 5th spot, while England on the 9th spot and Austria in 10th, have each made slight progress.

This is the first time that Belgium, Chile and Austria have ever reached such heights on the global ladder.

A total of 172 international ‘A’ matches have been taken into account in the November edition of the world ranking, bringing the total number of matches evaluated so far this year to 840.

Meanwhile, the Super Eagles of Nigeria have dropped seven places down in the FIFA ranking for the month of November.

The Super Eagles now occupy the 59th spot in the world and 12th position in the continent, Cote d’ivoire dropped a place to the 22nd position but retain the number one spot in the continent.

Algeria and Ghana in second and third spots in Africa also dropped seven and five places respectively to the 26th and 30th places on the FIFA rankings.

Cape Verde Islands moved nine places up to occupy the 4th spot in Africa and the 32nd spot in the world. Senegal, Tunisia, Cameroon, Congo Guinea and Congo DR complete Africa’s top ten.

The Pharaohs of Egypt dropped six places to stay on the 11th spot just above Nigeria.

Chile Wins Copa America

Hchileost nation, Chile, won the Copa America for the first time in the 99-year history of the tournament, after they beat Argentina 4-1 on penalties.

The game produced few chances in regulation time with the best coming in when Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez volley went wide in the 83rd minute.

In the 92nd minute, Argentina had a huge opportunity to seal the win, but Gonzalo Higuain could only find the side net after a beautiful interplay between Lionel Messi and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

The game went into penalty after extra-time ended goalless and only Messi converted his own shot with Higuain and Ever Banega missing from the spot, while Sanchez converted his spot kick to send the home crowd into wild jubilation.

Expressing his delight, the Chile Midfielder, Arturo Vidal, said: ”This is something so nice for all the Chilean people.

”We Chileans needed a triumph, something like this Cup, today we took an incredible step, we’re America’s best”

He also told reporters that they (the team) will fight a lot in the next World Cup.

Brazilian Striker, Firmino, Joins Liverpool In £29m Deal

Liverpool Sign Brazil Striker, Firmino In £29m DealEngland football giants, Liverpool FC, have signed Brazilian striker, Roberto Firmino, from Hoffenheim for about £29m.

The 23-year-old’s five-year deal was subject to a medical, which would take place after his return from the Copa America in Chile.

The Brazilian forward has scored 47 goals in 151 games for Hoffenheim, becoming the Reds’ second most expensive player after Andy Carroll, who was signed from Newcastle for £35m in 2011.

Liverpool have so far resisted two offers from Manchester City for England forward, Raheem Sterling.

However, having spent the last four and a half seasons in the Bundesliga, Firmino was on target for Brazil in their 2-1 Copa America victory over Venezuela on Sunday.

Argentine Football Chief, Grondoma Dies

Julio GrondonaThe veteran President of the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and FIFA Vice-President, Julio Grondona, has died at the age of 82 in a Buenos Aires clinic.

Grondoma got sick early Wednesday morning and was taken to hospital having been suffering from heart problems and died while undergoing emergency surgery.

The all-powerful figure, who had been in charge of Argentine football since 1979, was reported dead at around 1pm.

He had earlier in the week held meetings with Alejandro Sabella, who decided not to continue as Argentina coach after leading the team to the World Cup final in Brazil.

Grondona had been a FIFA Executive member since 1988 and was appointed to the head of AFA nine years earlier by the country’s military government.

He had been successfully re-elected by clubs to continue governing football in the South American nation every four years since 1979.

His time in charge saw Argentina win the World Cup in Mexico in 1986, the Copa America in 1991 and 1993 and Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008.

AFA’s Vice-President, Luis Segura; Second Deputy President, Juan Carlos Crespi and Director General of National Teams, Carlos Bilardo approached the Sanatorio Mitre private medical center as news about Grondona’s death was confirmed.