BUENOS AIRES - Japan have pulled out of
the Copa America for the second time in six weeks after failing
to secure the release of their European-based players, the
Argentine Football Association (AFA) confirmed on Monday.
The Japanese, who were invited to the July 1-24 tournament
in Argentina as guests, had been persuaded to reverse a decision
to withdraw taken on April 4 following the earthquake and
tsunami that devastated the country in March.
"I regret very much to communicate to you that the Japanese
national team cannot take part in the Copa America," JFA
president Junji Ogura told tournament organising committee chief
Jose Luis Meiszner in a letter to the AFA.
"Although the European clubs understand our situation,
unfortunately most of them have told us they cannot release
their players," Ogura was quoted as saying on the AFA's website.
Ogura also explained it was difficult to assemble a squad of
mainly home-based players since the domestic J-League calendar
had been put back six weeks owing to the devastation of the
earthquake and tsunami that left thousands dead, thousands more
missing and sparked a nuclear scare.
The AFA said the South American Football Confederation would
send an invitation to Costa Rica on Tuesday asking them if they
would like to replace Japan. Should they accept they would go
into Group A with hosts Argentina, Bolivia and Colombia.
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