CONMEBOL’s last-minute decision to switch the Copa América to Brazil has been met with dismay by the Brazilian squad, who are planning to boycott the region’s premier football tournament, according to reports.
The tournament was due to be played in Colombia and Argentina, but both countries were deemed unsuitable to hold Copa matches. Colombia has been shaken by political unrest in recent months while Argentina is bracing for a third wave of the pandemic. In their place, Brazil, run by far right leader Jair Bolsonaro, stepped up, despite having experienced three times as many COVID deaths as the two original hosts combined.
The reports said the Brazil squad were stunned at the news that their country was going to host the tournament and players had a furious row with federation president Rogerio Caboclo.
Brazil captain Casemiro was scheduled to attend a press conference on Thursday ahead of his team’s World Cup qualifier over Ecuador, a day later. But he declined to come. Instead team boss Tite revealed the squad’s thinking. “We’ve asked the athletes to focus only in the game against Ecuador,” he said. “Then they’ve [the players] asked to speak directly to the [federation] president.”
After Brazil’s 2-0 win on Friday, Casemiro said: “Everyone knows our position on the Copa America in Brazil. It could not be clearer. We want to express our opinion more after the game against Paraguay [on Monday]. It’s not just me, not just the players who play in Europe. It’s everyone, including Tite. All together.”
Reports also claimed that Brazil are now attempting to convince other sides to join them in abstaining from playing the tournament.
The rapporteur of an inquiry into Bolsonaro’s handling of COVID-19 has also criticised the decision to award Brazil the hosting rights
Senator Renan Calheiros, who referred to the Copa America as the “Championship of Death”, earlier this week called on Brazil star Neymar to not take part in the tournament.
Copa America is due to kick off on June 13 when Brazil play Venezuela in Brasilia. It features ten sides from South and Central America in a tournament that spans just under a month.