Copa America: Brazilian players and staff criticize tournament in public letter


The championship, South America’s largest international football tournament, kicks off on June 13 in Brazil.

“We are a cohesive group, but with different ideas. For various reasons, be they humanitarian or professional, we are dissatisfied with the conduct of the Copa America by CONMEBOL [South America’s Football Confederation]whether it was later hosted in Chile or even in Brazil, ”the unsigned document reads.

“All recent facts lead us to believe in an inadequate process in its realization.”

The team stressed, however, that “at no time” did they want to “turn it into a political discussion”.

“We are against the organization of the Copa America, but we will never say no to the Brazilian team,” the statement concluded.

Brazilian players pose ahead of a game against Paraguay earlier this month.
READ: ‘Let’s talk at the right time,’ Casemiro says of Brazil hosting Copa America

The players feared possible reprisals from CONMEBOL and leaders and officers of the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) in response to the letter, according to Brazilian press reports.

CONMEBOL, in agreement with the Brazilian Federal Government backed by President Jair Bolsonaro, announced only last week that Brazil will be the new Copa America host due to health and political issues involving Argentina and Colombia – the original hosts of the tournament.

The change of venue for the Copa America has drawn criticism, both within the South American football community and the Brazilian public.

Concerns have been expressed about the handling of the coronavirus pandemic in Brazil.

According to the World Health Organization, the country has recorded nearly 17 million confirmed cases and 473,000 deaths. Over 65 million doses of vaccine have been administered.

The CBF is also currently facing management problems, with President Rogerio Caboclo being temporarily removed from his post on Sunday after allegations of sexual harassment by a confederation employee.

Protests were organized against Brazil which hosts the Copa America.
READ: Brazilian senator calls on Neymar not to enter the field in ‘Championship of death’

Brazilian press reports point out that players and staff were unhappy with how Caboclo handled the Copa America problem, adding that his withdrawal helped calm the locker room.

Manager Adenor Bachi Tite denied he would step down if Caboclo remained in power at a press conference on Wednesday morning, moments after the public letter was released.

“I thought about working. I’m not a hypocrite. I’m not alienated and I know things happen. But I know how to prioritize,” Tite said.

The 2020 edition of the Copa America has been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga on Tuesday defended the government’s decision to host the Copa America tournament, saying: “There is no evidence that [Copa America] increases the level of Covid-19 contamination in athletes. ”

Queiroga made the comments during testimony during a Senate inquiry into the Brazilian government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The minister argued that the latest edition of Brazil’s national football championship which ended in February this year went without major issues, saying only one case of Covid-19 was linked to the competition.

However, in a report released in March, the CBF said the championship accounted for hundreds of cases among soccer players in Brazil.

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