The JFA has confirmed that Unofficial Football World Champions Japan will not participate in the Copa America this summer. As a result, the arranged Japan vs Colombia UFWC title match will not take place.
Japan had been due to participate in the South American continental tournament as guests. JFA President Junji Ogura travelled to Paraguay to discuss the decision at the headquarters of governing body Conmebol.
‘We had asked to be invited to the South American championship, first of all. Therefore, it is not for us to make a decision unilaterally,’ Ogura explained. However, after discussing the current situation in Japan, where suspended domestic J-League fixtures are due to be played in July, both parties agreed that Japan should not participate.
‘The priority at this moment is to continue saving lives and rebuilding the country after the earthquake and tsunami,’ said Ogura. ‘Now we have to use this period to finish our domestic championship, as the Asian qualifiers for the 2014 World Cup and the 2012 London Olympics are approaching.’
This entirely understandable decision temporarily leaves Japan’s international fixture list blank. The next competitive fixture is likely to be a World Cup 2014 qualifier – Japan will go into the main group draw in Brazil on 31 July 2011. However, there are likely to be friendly matches arranged ahead of that. (The 2012 Olympic football tournament is contested by under-23 teams, so those games are not FIFA ‘A’ matches and don’t count as UFWC title matches.)
With no title matches fixtured, the UFWC will be on temporary hiatus for the next few months. However, ufwc.co.uk will continue to bring you news and features from the Unofficial World Championships, beginning with a look at the longest gaps between title matches – and some have been huge.
We’ll also update you as soon as the next UFWC title match is announced. In the meantime, of course, Japan remain Unofficial Football World Champions.