It is hard to imagine a World Cup or European Championship semi-final venue being changed at a fortnight’s notice, yet when the South American Football Confederation (CSF) switched the Copa America semi-final from Caracas to Maracaibo on Monday, two weeks before it is due to be played, nobody batted an eye-lid.Those few eyebrows must belong to the people who already had tickets and accommodations set up in Caracas. While Homewood notes that semi-final tickets will be honored in Maracaibo, that still leaves two rather big obstacles: the 466 miles between the two cities and the lack of available hotel rooms in Maracaibo.
The CSF appear to pride themselves on being masters of improvisation. In 1997, when the competition was held in Bolivia, there was a fantastic rule that the final would be played in La Paz at 3,600 metres above sea level if Bolivia qualified and at low-lying Santa Cruz if they did not.
In 2001, the tournament, due to be held in Colombia, was postponed and relocated because of security fears. Then, under pressure from sponsors and the Colombian government, it went ahead as scheduled at eight days’ notice. Argentina, who had already told their players to go on holiday, pulled out and Honduras took their place.
In the light of this, a mere semi-final venue switch, officially for security reasons, raises few eyebrows.
For a Homewood blast from the past, take a look at how the Mexican 1st division is run.
Masters of improvisation strike again [Reuters Soccer Blog]
Mexican soccer joy for travel agents and pop stars [Guardian]