Brazil | 10th June 2021 | Virtual Wire
A man adjusts a protest banner reading "we don’t want the Cup, we want vaccine! Out Bolsonaro" outside the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 2, 2021. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares/File photo.
The Brazilian soccer team is positively against the last-minute decision to switch the Copa America from Argentina to Brazil amid a severe increase in COVID-19 cases in the country. But despite everything, they say they will still play in the 10-nation tournament which is planned to start in Brasilia on Sunday.
Brazil wasn’t the first choice to stage the Copa America. After the removal of Colombia due to its ongoing civil unrest and the withdrawal of Argentina due to another surge in COVID-19 cases, Brazil became, despite the pandemic, the most fitting candidate for holding the event. But with more than 476,000 deaths from COVID-19, more than any country outside the United States, the decision by Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro to greenlight the hosting of the tournament was met with surprise.
On the other side, multiple Brazilian news reports said the players were upset at not being consulted about the decision. Some players are reportedly reluctant to take part in an event that might have terrible public health consequences. “We are not satisfied”, said the players in a statement posted online last Wednesday.
“For different reasons, be they humanitarian or professional, we are not satisfied with the way the Copa America has been handled by CONMEBOL,” they added. “All the recent facts lead us to believe in an inadequate process in realizing (the tournament).”
Not wishing to make their opposition a political issue, they finished saying they had never considered a boycott: “We are against the organization of the Copa America but we will never say no to playing for Brazil.”
The statement came shortly after Brazil defeated Paraguay 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Asuncion, a result that puts them in pole position to qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Brazil is expected to start the tournament against Venezuela on June 13th. The matches will be played in four cities, before culminating in its finals in Rio de Janeiro on July 10th.
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