BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – The Argentine football association says Japan has pulled out of July's Copa America for the second time due to problems forming a team following March's earthquake and tsunami.
The AFA, the Copa America host, quoted Japanese football association president Junji Ogura on its website Monday saying ''the majority'' of European clubs with Japanese players have refused to release them for the July 1-24 tournament.
Ogura was quoted as saying it would be difficult to call up Japan-based players because delays caused by the natural disasters had forced changes to the domestic football schedule.
Japan pulled out of the tournament for the first time in April, but reversed its decision two weeks later. The JFA has refused to confirm the latest withdrawal and says a press conference will be held later Tuesday.
South American confederation spokesman Nestor Benitez told The AP a replacement for Japan will be decided shortly.
''I can't forward names of possible candidates to take up the vacancy because that would start speculation,'' Benitez said. ''We will wait for the final decision, which won't take long.''
The AFA website says an invitation to compete would be sent Monday on behalf of CONMEBOL to Central American nation Costa Rica.
Costa Rica had already requested a place in the competition after it became clear that Japan was struggling to form a team.
Since 1993, CONMEBOL has invited at least two nations to join the 10 South American teams that contest the Copa America. As usual, Mexico was also invited to this year's tournament.