Japan withdraws from Copa America again

Japan have pulled out of the Copa America for a second time after being unable to release players from club competition in Europe.One of two guest countries invited to participate, Japan announced in early April that it was withdrawing from July’s tournament in Argentina, due to the disruption caused to the J-League season by the devastating earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the nation in March.

The Japanese Football Association reversed the decision soon after, before officially announcing on Tuesday they would be withdrawing once again.

The JFA had intended to send a largely European-based squad to the tournament but could not get the permission of clubs in Germany to release Japanese national representatives, despite the tournament taking place during the Bundesliga pre-season.

JFA president Junji Ogura sent an official withdrawal notice to the Argentina Football Federation (AFA) to confirm, once and for all, that Japan would not be participating in the tournament.

“We are sorry to inform you that the Japanese team cannot participate in the Copa America 2011 in Argentina. We apologise deeply,” the letter said.

Instead, Japan will play home friendlies against Peru and the Czech Republic in June, in their first A international appearances since the earthquake and tsunami struck.

Costa Rica have been mooted as potential replacements for Japan at the tournament.