Saturday, May 21, 2011

Japan backs out once more

Japan have withdrawn again from July's Copa America once again.

The JFA initially pulled out when March's earthquake and tsunami forced the J-League to reschedule during the Copa America, but re-entered the competition following discussions with CONMEBOL, who were still keen for Japan to take part.

Now Chief Executive Junji Ogura has confirmed there will be no Japanese presence in Argentina after both J-League and European clubs signalled their reluctance to release players. The stumbling block for the 15 European clubs holding Japanese players was the early start of their league season, because of Euro 2012.

JFA Technical Director Hiromi Hara flew to Europe for discussions with almost a dozen clubs but came back empty-handed as clubs had complained the Copa America was essentially only a friendly tournament for Japan. The JFA opted not to send a B team to the tournament, as the USA had done in 2007, where it lost all its matches.

Costa Rica are expected to be confirmed as Japan's replacement.

-Sean O'Conor & Soccerphile

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