* Japan pull out of Copa America
* JFA to concentrate on recovery from earthquake
ASUNCION, April 4 (Reuters) - Japan will not take part in
the Copa America, officials confirmed on Monday, after the
country's northeastern coast was devastated by an earthquake and
tsunami last month.
Japan Football Association (JFA) president Junji Ogura,
whose team had been invited to the July tournament in Argentina,
told South American soccer governing body (CSF) chief Nicolas
Leoz that his organisation wanted to concentrate on the
"Japan will not take part in the Copa America. The (JFA)
president came to explain the reasons. He believes the priority
now is to try to save lives and (Japan's) reconstruction," CSF
spokesman Nestor Benitez said on Monday.
"On top of that, the Japanese FA have organisational
problems due to damage to infrastructure," he added.
More than 11,000 people were killed and over 15,000 are
missing as a result of the force 9.0 earthquake and huge
Media reports in Argentina said world champions Spain could
be invited to replace Japan in the 12-team tournament but
Argentine FA president Julio Grondona told Reuters he knew
nothing about such a possibility.
"I know nothing about it. It's a matter for the South
American Confederation," Grondona said.
The team to replace Japan, who played at the 1999 tournament
in Paraguay, are more likely to come from the Concacaf region
with Costa Rica, Canada and Honduras named in media reports.
Mexico have been regular guests at the Copa since 1993,
Costa Rica and the United States have played in it three times,
while Honduras filled the gap when Argentina pulled out of the
2001 tournament in Colombia over security issues.
Japan were drawn in Group A with hosts Argentina, Bolivia
and Colombia for the July 1-24 tournament.
(Writing by Rex Gowar in Buenos Aires; Editing by Clare
Fallon; To query or comment on this story email
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