The union of Colombian footballers on Thursday called on authorities to halt all domestic matches because of political instability in the country, just a month before the Copa America is due to kick off in both Colombia and Argentina. Colombia has been hit by a wave of protests since late April with riot police wielding tear gas and stun grenades clashing with crowds in many of the country’s biggest cities.
Four games were moved from Colombia to Paraguay and Ecuador last week due to the unrest and Wednesday night’s game between Junior and River Plate was marred when some of the players felt the effects of tear gas that wafted into the stadium from outside. In an appeal to the Colombian Football Association, the league and their own clubs, players with the Acolfutpro union said that “until the public order situation that affects the entire country and puts our wellbeing at risk is not resolved, we ask you not to schedule any more games in domestic tournaments.”
In an open letter the union said “professional footballers stand with the Colombians who are demanding a better country.” The move comes just 25 days before the national side is due to face Argentina in a World Cup qualifier in Barranquilla.
And on June 14, Colombia is set to host the first of 15 games in the Copa America tournament that is played by the 10 countries of South America. The tournament is the oldest in international football and is being held by two countries for the first time, with Colombia and Argentina sharing the duties.
The kick-off is in Buenos Aires on June 13 and the final is scheduled for the Colombian city of Barranquilla on July 10.