Japan’s FA has informed CONMEBOL that they will not be participating in July’s Copa America. “The priority right now is to keep saving lives and rebuild the country after last month’s earthquake and tsunami.” Japanese FA President, Junji Ogura said.
It was a difficult, but not surprising decision. The J league has been suspended and won’t return to action until April 23. A lot of clubs in northern Japan have sustained infrastructural damage. Preparing for a tournament half a world away has to be the last thing on their minds.
The JFA had earlier stated it would participate in the South America tournament, as it had previously in 1999.
So who does CONMEBOL turn to now?
Canada and Costa Rica have expressed interest. The question is, will CONCACAF limit either of these to a U23 team like they did to Mexico?
There appears to be a lot of support in Argentina to bring in the current world champs, Spain, to the tournament. If Spain does indeed come, I would have to think that it would be a watered down version of the team that played in South Africa. These guys have not had a summer off since 2007, and with the Euros next year, playing in Copa America would give them 5 straight summers with tournaments. That is a lot of extra footie.
If I were a betting man, I would think that Costa Rica will be the side that takes the field in place of Japan in Argentina in July.
Who replaces Japan?