Qatar, host nation of the 2022 Fifa World Cup, is set to compete in the 2019 Copa America in Brazil as one of six invited countries for the national team football tournament.
The claim was made today (Thursday) by Ivan Bravo, director general of the Qatari government-backed Aspire Academy, at the Bilbao International Football Summit.
Bravo said: “It will be the first time that Qatar will face teams like Brazil or Argentina. It will be a unique opportunity for the team to accumulate experience, so that it can compete on an equal basis at the 2022 World Cup.”
Brazilian website GloboEsporte.com said it had confirmed the comments made by Bravo. The Copa America traditionally extends invites to teams beyond the 10 members of the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol).
GloboEsporte.com said Qatar will be joined by China, Japan, Mexico and two more countries that are yet to be determined.
Brazil had been lined up to host the 2019 Copa America following a deal struck between the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) and the Chilean Football Association (ANFP) in March 2012.
The agreement was struck with the CBF under pressure to ensure its preparations were ready on time for Brazil’s staging of the 2013 Fifa Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup. With Rio de Janeiro also hosting the 2016 summer Olympic Games the CBF decided that the staging of South America’s showpiece national team competition in 2015 would place too much of a strain on the country’s resources.
Chile took over Brazil’s staging of the 2015 Copa America, with Brazil assuming the hosting rights to the 2019 tournament, which was due to be held in Chile. The hosting rights traditionally rotate around the 10 Conmebol nations on an alphabetical basis.