KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS:  Qatar and Australia have pulled out of this summer’s Copa América.

Officially, according to a statement from South American confederation CONMEBOL, the reason for both the Asian region nations to withdraw is calendar problems.

Behind the development however is the basic fact that the Covid-19 pandemic has not only led to travel restriction uncertainties but forced significant delays in the qualifying tournament for the World Cup next year in Qatar.

Of course the Gulf state qualifies directly as host nation but the national team are scheduled to slot in a non-competitive wat into the European fixtures schedule.

The Copa America is due to be played in Argentina and Colombia from June 11 to July 10. Qatar and Australia will not be replaced.

In the first group round Australia had been due to face Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay in the group stage while Qatar would have played Colombia, holders Brazil, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela.