Sun, 24 Jan 2021

ASUNCION, July 2 (Xinhua) -- South America's top football competitions will only resume when governments and health authorities deem it safe to do so, the head of the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) said on Thursday.

In an address during a virtual meeting of the Mercosur South American trade bloc, CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez said no risks would be taken to restart continental tournaments.

"Our intention is not to return to the pre-epidemic situation overnight, but rather that football comes back with complete safety when the respective health authorities consider it appropriate," the Paraguayan said.

Football in South America was suspended in March after the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic.

Rio de Janeiro's Carioca championship became the first competition to resume on June 18. In the past month, the national football associations of Uruguay, Peru, Paraguay, Brazil and Colombia have announced plans to restart their respective first division seasons.

CONMEBOL previously said it hoped to restart the Copa Libertadores - the region's premier club competition - in September, when it also aims to begin its 2022 World Cup qualifying tournament.

But despite stressing the importance of football to the region, Dominguez declined to set a definitive target for the sport's resumption.

"Our people have made great sacrifices and effort by adhering to severe quarantines," he told Mercosur delegates. "Football can be a remedy that helps us to lift our spirits and recover from this hard blow."

In March, CONMEBOL postponed the Copa America in Argentina and Colombia by 12 months to June and July 2021.

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