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Argentina replaces Japan in 2021 SheBelieves Cup

Photo Copyright Daniela Porcelli for The Equalizer

Argentina will replace Japan in the 2021 SheBelieves Cup next month, U.S. Soccer announced on Thursday. Japan withdrew from the tournament citing the current status of the COVID-19 pandemic in their country. Tokyo is scheduled to host the Olympics this summer.

Argentina, Brazil, Canada and the United States are now slated to compete in the sixth annual SheBelieves Cup. All matches will be played at Exploria Stadium in Orlando, Florida, from Feb. 18-24.

The change in tournament participants likely shifts the parity of the competition. Whereas the four originally announced teams are all in the top 10 in the world, Argentina is currently ranked 31st in the world and has been inactive for over a year.

After qualifying for the 2019 World Cup — where some individuals shone, and the team missed out on advancing in part due to a wild, controversial game with Scotland which ended 3-3 — the AFA has done little to support players, some of whom spoke out in search of better treatment.

Argentina players pay the price for demanding change

According to U.S. Soccer:

“Once all four teams arrive in Orlando, all the players and staffs will operate inside highly controlled environments at the host hotel. The staging of trainings and the matches will fall under the comprehensive U.S. Soccer Return to Play Protocols and Guidelines and in accordance with the Concacaf Return to Play Protocols. Everyone entering the controlled environment will be tested for COVID-19 before traveling, upon arrival and every two days thereafter. The teams will not begin full team training until the results of all arrival tests are confirmed. All matches will be conducted with limited attendance.”

2021 SheBelieves Cup Schedule

Date        Matches                      Stadium City                                 Kickoff (ET)   TV
Feb. 18    Brazil vs. Argentina      Exploria Stadium Orlando, Fla.      4 p.m.             TBD
Feb. 18    USA vs. Canada         Exploria Stadium Orlando, Fla.   7 p.m.            FS1/TUDN
Feb. 21    USA vs. Brazil            Exploria Stadium Orlando, Fla.   3 p.m.            FS1/TUDN

Feb. 21    Argentina vs. Canada  Exploria Stadium Orlando, Fla.      6 p.m.             TBD
Feb. 24    Canada vs. Brazil        Exploria Stadium Orlando, Fla.      4 p.m.             TBD
Feb. 24    USA vs. Argentina     Exploria Stadium Orlando, Fla.   7 p.m.             FS1/TUDN

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