BOGOTA: New uncertainty has arisen over the staging of the Copa América in June and July after street riots in the Colombian cities of Medellín, Cali and Bogotá and Barranquilla, where the final is scheduled on July 10.

Argentina is due to share hosting of the finals with Colombia which has been hit by a sharp increase in the number of Covid-19 cases.

Clashes with police over the past three months in Colombia have left 42 dead and more than 1,500 injured.

However President Iván Duque insisted earlier this week that “the cup will take place in both countries . . . it will be an important message at this time.”

On Thursday night, clashes with the police, who fired tear gas near the Barranquilla stadium, forced seven interruptions in the Copa Libertadores tie between América de Cali and Brazil’s Atletico Mineiro.

On Wednesday in Pereira, the goalless draw between Nacional of Uruguay and Atlético de Medellín began an hour late because of incidents outside the hotel where the Uruguayan team had been staying.

In Barranquilla, the 1-1 draw between Atletico Junior and the Argentinian club River Plate was halted for a few minutes because of tear gas drifting across the pitch.

Argentina’s state President Alberto Fernández has remained cautiously hopeful.

He said: “I don’t want to spoil the Copa América party but I want us to be very reasonable, we have to be very careful. Like most countries in South America, Argentina and Colombia are reporting a sharp increase in cases of Covid-19 infection, which puts our health systems to the test.”