The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) was the first to make the decision to suspend the tournaments as soon as the first cases of coronavirus were known in the region, and with the same haste it activated the protocols so that the ball continued to roll, a challenge that your president, Alejandro Domínguez, highlighted as one of the lessons of that 2020 pandemic.
“COVID put to the test our ability to carry out and carry out the most important tournaments in the region, such as the South American Cup and the Libertadores, protecting the health of the entire soccer ecosystem, not only the players, we succeeded,” he said. Dominguez this Thursday to Efe in telephone conversation.
His maxim at this time was to defend “sports justice” so that all clubs could play as home and away, and thus maintain the original formats of the competitions.
Which ended with “two legitimate champions with sporting merits”: with the Brazilian Palmeiras as the winner of the Libertadores and the Argentine Defense and Justice of the Sudamericana.
“The organization and the definition of health protocols were the key so that football did not stop and achieve a level of contagion of 1.2%, which in his opinion shows that” all the care has been effective. “
With the 2020 lesson learned and aware that 2021 will also be marked by the pandemic, Conmebol is already preparing for its tournaments this year: the Copa Libertadores, the Copa Sudamericana and the Copa América in Argentina and Colombia.
“We will continue with the same policy of believing big, that we will be able to make the ball not stop. All of this was a team effort and the team will remain the same for 2021,” Domínguez said.
Confident of the good result of internal health policies, the president of CONMEBOL ruled out setbacks that force them to postpone or change the venues of these competitions, although he stressed that if they had to do so, “measures in favor of football will always be taken.”
In the face of the Copa América, Conmebol is already “working closely” with the governments of Argentina and Colombia, which they plan to have “at least half of their population vaccinated by June”, when will this tournament start.
Likewise, Domínguez also does not see possible alterations in the schedule of the Libertadores and Sudamericana, whose draw is held this Friday, virtually at its headquarters in Greater Asunción, and trusts that the matches will begin in February.
VACCINATION ACCORDING TO THE COUNTRIES
Although vaccines have already begun to reach some countries in the region, football associations and their members will have to wait their turn to vaccinate within the timetables established in each of their countries.
“We do not have the conditions to assume these types of policies, because that corresponds to the authorities and the health policies of each government. We do not have priority over what is already established by the health authorities of each country,” recalled the president of Conmebol .
Far from seeing a problem in which the different rates and phases of vaccination in each country could accelerate the immunization of some associations with respect to others, Domínguez said that “it would be a benefit for any citizen.”
“I reiterate that the protocol that was developed shows 99% effectiveness. I am not saying that the vaccine is not necessary, I am saying that for the football environment it was demonstrated that our protocol is sufficient to maintain the health of our athletes”added.
While waiting for the vaccine and the improvement of the contagion figures in each of the countries, the return of the public to the stadiums in South America is also conditioned.
The final of the Copa Libertadores, in the Brazilian stadium of Maracaná, served to feel “a little that heat from the public”, since a limited presence of attendees was allowed, all “previously tested with negative PCR.”
“Hopefully he will return as soon as possible, but we depend on whether or not the health authorities of each country allow public in stadiums,” Domínguez hoped.