Honduras to replace Argentina in Copa America

“We’re going to take part in Copa America,” the head of the Honduras Football Federation, Lizandro Flores said.
Flores announced that the team would probably fly to Medellin on Thursday. It will join Costa Rica – a last-minute replacement for Canada – Bolivia and Uruguay in Group C.
Honduras will play Central American rival Costa Rica on Friday.
Canada, due to play as guests, pulled out last week, saying they could not reassemble their squads at such short notice.
Argentina, South America’s strongest team, had confirmed on Tuesday they were pulling out of the Copa America.
“They’re not going. It was a unanimous decision,” said Oscar Gimenez, president of first division club Argentinos Juniors and a member of the Argentina Football Association’s (AFA) executive committee.
He blamed “lack of security and the conditions which exist at the moment in Colombia”.
Argentina had first announced their withdrawal last Thursday after the South American Football Confederation (CSF), amid general consternation, announced the cup would start on July 11 having the week before postponed it until 2002.
At the time, AFA president Julio Grondona said the players had been sent on holiday after the Copa was postponed until next year and said it was impossible to form a team in three days.
He then agreed to put the matter before the executive committee which confirmed the earlier decision.
The AFA defied enormous political pressure in making their decision.
Grondona admitted he had been contacted by Argentina President Fernando de la Rua, who in turn had been lobbied by Colombia President Andres Pastrana for Argentina to go.
Argentina were also believed to be under pressure from the Brazilian company Traffic who sold television rights for the tournament and who, according to a high-ranking Colombian soccer official, “imposed the Copa.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Brazil midfielder Mauro Silva, who had been due to captain his country, said he would not play because he did not think Colombia was fit to host the competition.
The player decided to back out of the competition on Monday as he was about to board the team’s plane in Sao Paulo for the flight to Colombia.
“I’m not going, but it’s not out of fear,” said the veteran player, who was recalled to the national team after an excellent season in Spain with Deportivo Coruna. “If Colombia wasn’t in a state to organise the Copa a week ago, why is it now,” he asked.
Meanwhile, European champions Bayern Munich are refusing to release Brazil’s Elber and Peru’s Claudio Pizarro for the tournament because of worries about the players’ safety.
The Copa America has lost its importance in the last decade and most teams now rest their top players regardless of where it is played.
Brazil have left their top players out this year and Uruguay are sending a second-string team as are hosts Colombia.