Copa America football’s latest edition seems to be jinxed. Firstly Argentina and Colombia pulled out as tournament hosts. And, now Brazil players and captain are ready to pull out as well. The senior players of Brazil, including captain Casemiro, don’t seem to be ready to play this tournament during COVID-19.
Brazil’s coach, Tite, has mentioned that their players are in doubt. They have debated whether or not to play during COVID-19 in Copa America. However, they don’t seem to make any public statements yet on this whole matter until the World Cup qualifying games against Paraguay and Ecuador.
This has become a major problem amid the rising COVID-19 cases in the region.
Tite, Brazil’s coach, said, “They have an opinion, they exposed it to the president and they will expose it to the public at the appropriate time. That is why our captain Casemiro is absent today.” During a news conference, he stated this when he was asked about his players skipping permission to the continental championship during June 13-July 10.
Brazil will play against Ecuador on Friday and Paraguay on the coming Tuesday in a South American match to qualify for the World Cup 2022. The South American soccer confederation selected Brazil for hosting after Argentina dropped out due to the spread of COVID-19. Even Colombia was eliminated as their co-host the previous month after street protests against their President Ivan Duque. However, Brazilian players, coaching staff and executives have not spoken to the media about this decision after the announcement.
According to Tite, the athletes are asked just to focus on their match against Ecuador. After all, they have a priority to play well and also beat Ecuador. Only after the two rounds, the situation will be clear for them. He also mentioned that Copa America is important for them but for now they only want to concentrate on the match they have in the line-up.
The reason to drop out also seems valid, as there are around 470,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in Brazil. According to health experts, the third wave will be more infectious later this month.
Just like COVID-19, the reality is tough. The 105-year-old tournament has been switched from Argentina and Colombia due to political unrest and COVID-19.
On June 5, Brazil reported less than 17 million COVID-19 cases. With this, the country has the third-highest coronavirus cases in the world. It is second behind the United States.
Only 10% of their population is vaccinated. After Brazil was announced as the host, it recorded around 94,509 new cases. It is the country’s second-highest number on its record.
The decision for tournament hosting caused criticism across South America. Politicians, footballers, lawyers, health experts and fans expressed their disbelief at the idea of hosting this tournament in Brazil that’s constantly struggling to fight the virus.
The Football Federation of Brazil has made a statement and failed to respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comments. But the national team of Brazil is against the idea of hosting this tournament at home this time.