The Copa America of this year was originally scheduled for Colombia and Argentina but will now take place in Brazil. A few weeks ago, Colombia was forced to withdraw as a consequence of a wave of social unrest. Then, it was Argentina’s turn to bow out, as the Coronavirus pandemic turned worse.
If the tournament commenced according to the plans then it would have been the first time two nations would have been hosting the oldest events in the history of football. Still, the plan seemed to be bizarre for two countries at the opposite ends and it had all to do with politics.
ESPN reported, “Argentina wanted it as part of its campaign to co-host the 2030 World Cup, ostensibly with Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile. The plan is to celebrate the centenary of the world’s biggest football tournament, first played in Uruguay in 1930. Uruguay lacks the cities to stage a modern World Cup on its own, so Argentina came in as a senior partner. The fan violence that prevented Argentina from staging the second leg of the 2018 Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors – a match that was ultimately played in Madrid — left Argentina looking for a chance to wipe the slate clean and boost their 2030 bid by staging this extra Copa America.”
“This left Colombia profoundly displeased. It was already standing aside for the World Cup bid. Theoretically, it is the next South American country in line but waived this right to support the joint 2030 campaign. Standing aside for this Copa would be too much. It has only had the Copa America once, in 2001, while Argentina staged it as recently as 2011.”
“CONMEBOL came up with the diplomatic solution of splitting the tournament between the two – an arrangement with serious consequences.”
“The pandemic caused organizers to change that to two groups of six — one in Argentina, one in Colombia, with the top four is qualifying for the quarterfinals. The situation became even more absurd when the guests: Australia and Qatar – were forced to pull out when they had World Cup qualifiers were scheduled for June. So now there are two groups of five, with only the bottom team of each group being eliminated.”
The status of CONMEBOL
According to ESPN, “As a result of the pandemic, South America is way behind on its marathon World Cup qualification campaign. Using this time to catch up on qualifiers would seem to make common sense – until you look at CONMEBOL’s finances.”
“The Copa is a huge event for the confederation, usually bringing in some $120 million. This one, without the invited teams, without fans in the stadiums, is set to take a loss. But the loss will be far more painful if the competition does not go ahead at all. Contracts have been signed, and — as far as CONMEBOL see it — everything has to be done to ensure that content is delivered.”
Why Brazil has been chosen as the new host?
The answer is simple, no other nations in South America have the best facilities in arranging such an event other than Brazil in such a quick time and again, the relationship between CONMEBOL and CONCACAF strained after the Copa America 2016, thus, the United States of America could not be an option as these days, CONCACAF arrange their own Nations Cup.
CONMEBOL made a point of thanking President Jair Bolsonaro for allowing the tournament to go ahead, with the Brazilian leader saying the country was keen to play host even though a Supreme Court judge there asked him to explain his surprise decision.
Bolsonaro said the host cities would be Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Goiania and Cuiaba.
Reactions from Brazil
Brazilian Senator Renan Calheiros referred to Copa America as the “Championship of Death” last Tuesday and called on Brazil national team star Neymar to not take part in the tournament.
“Neymar, do not take the field in this Copa America, while your friends, your relatives, your acquaintances continue to die and the vaccine does not reach our country,” Calheiros told Radio Eldorado.
“This is not the championship we need to compete in. We have to compete in the vaccination championship. It is in this championship that you need to score goals so that our score is changed.
“On this score [vaccination], we are in the last [few] places. In the ‘death championship,’ we are in second place, with the second-highest number of deaths in the world,” he added. “The Brazilian team cannot agree with this. ICUs and cemeteries are full. Under what conditions are we going to celebrate a goal for Brazil?”
On June 7 2021, Brazil has had 39,637 new cases of the novel coronavirus reported in the past 24 hours, and 873 deaths from COVID-19.
On a rolling seven-day average, Brazil is reporting more than 1,800 deaths a day.
The South American country has now registered 16,947,062 cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 473,404, according to ministry data, in the world’s third-worst outbreak outside the United States and India, and it’s second-deadliest.
Amid such a tricky situation, how justified would it be to host this event remains a moot question.
The Brazilian players have also expressed their disinterest in participating in the event because after all, they cannot enjoy out in the middle while the people are dying around the country.
Despite defeating Ecuador 2-0, the country’s focus remains on whether the players will decide to drop out of the tournament and if head coach Tite will resign from his post just a week out from the start of the competition.
Tite has taken the players’ side after the decision to move the tournament to the country and the relationship between himself and the Brazil Football Federation was already weak.
Many believe he will leave his job before Copa America starts, but he says he will make his decision on June 8 following their match against Paraguay.
“You can all make up any hypothesis you want, I just ask that you’re careful,” Tite said in a press conference.
“I’ll explain myself at the right time. Not now.”
“I’m not running away from the question but we all know there’s a correct time to do things.”
Casemiro also spoke after the Ecuador match.
“We’ll talk,” he explained.
“Tite explained the situation. What Tite said is what happened and we’ve taken our position.”
“At the right time, well talk.”
MARCA reported, the Argentina Football Association (AFA) have confirmed – Argentina will play in the Copa America in Brazil.
This surprise announcement has come in the midst of the enormous controversy over whether the tournament should take place, as well as the negotiations between the captains of the respective teams to boycott the tournament.
The Argentina squad had not chosen to openly declare their opposition to the tournament as players such as Casemiro, Luis Suarez and Juan Cuadrado have, although Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni voiced his concern over the tournament taking place in Brazil, due to the COVID-19 situation in the country.
Although this statement has been released, time will tell whether the Argentina squad will agree to take part in the tournament, or join ranks with players from other countries and boycott it.
Chaos in the CBF
In the meantime, there was a rumour that Tite would be forced to resign as the coach and the President of CBF Rogerio Caboclo, but what happened is, that Caboclo has been suspended for thirty days after being found guilty of sexual harassment. Various reports speculate that this might be the end of Caboclo.
Caboclo, 48, was reported to the Ethics Commission on Friday by an employee who accused him of several episodes of sexual and moral harassment in recent months, according to Globo Esporte.
Antonio Carlos Nunes, a retired colonel of Para’s Military Police, is 82 years old and has temporarily assumed the Confederation as the oldest vice-president of Caboco’s administration. This is not the first time he has run CBF.
From February 2017 to April 2019 he held the most important position in Brazilian football.
Marco Polo joined after Del Niro was banned from football.
When Caboclo took office, he left.
Before that, he had already spent 150 days in the role, in 2016, when Del Niro graduated after being indicted by US courts in the case, which became known as FIFAGate.
Should Copa America take place this year?
The answer is NO!
Because the safety of the players and emotional state of the nation is more important than hosting such a mega-event – Not only Brazil but the rest of the countries in Latin America are devastated by the Pandemic and it would be sensible enough not to host the event this year.