The tournament is supposed to start after 7 days, but the situation is still ambiguous. Will the Copa America 2021 be played or not?
The Copa America was scheduled to be held in 2020, but due to the Corona pandemic, the competition was postponed to 2021, with Argentina and Colombia to be hosted by a joint organization, from June 13 to July 10.
But weeks before the start of the tournament, everything changed, and the organization was transferred to Brazil – on the same dates as the matches – even though it had not yet agreed to host the tournament!
So what happened?
Until May 14, all was well – or so it seemed – when Colombias America de Cali played against Atletico Mineiro of Brazil in the group stage of the Copa Libertadores.
The match, which ended 3-1 in favor of the Brazilian team, witnessed events described as “warlike” according to the Brazilian network “UOL”, after it was stopped for 7 times due to the escalation of tear gas that was fired at the demonstrators outside the stadium.
The reason is because hundreds of Colombians demonstrated against the government to express their rejection of the new tax law.
TENSION IN COLOMBIA! Atletico-MG is in the middle of a real war in Libertadores. The turmoil around the stadium is greatly affecting Galo and America de Cali players on the field due to the pepper spray.
Credito: Twitter/HaroldCovillaB pic.twitter.com/ck6afi9iQo
— TNT Sports Brasil (@TNTSportsBR) May 14, 2021
The Colombian Sports Minister, Ernesto Lucena, said:Frank dialogue is what we need today. Let’s use Copa America as a symbol of peace. Today Colombia more than ever needs the Copa America more than 2001“.
However, the intensity of the demonstrations did not stop, as the tournament was withdrawn from Colombia after 40 people were killed, so that Argentina applied to host it completely.
If Alberto Fernandez, President of Argentina, expresses the country’s readiness to fully host the Copa America, he said in a statement to the newspaper “El Nacion”:We can analyze the entire Copa America organization as long as everyone strictly adheres to the terms of the controls and protocols“.
On May 27, Argentina officially offered to host the entire tournament on its own.
As the Latin American Football Confederation issued “CONMEBOL”, Fernandez, President of Argentina, held a meeting with Alejandro Dominguez, President of the Confederation, and offered him:Strict protocol for hosting the tournament, organizational and logistical aspects – with final permission for an additional stadium – and everything related to health protocols evaluated“.
The day after Argentinas request -May 28 – the Argentine Federation announced the suspension of football activity due to the outbreak of the Corona virus throughout the country.
The suspension of matches was initially from May 28 until May 30, with the application of the precautionary measures announced by the state due to the spread of the second wave of the Corona virus.
And quickly, the South American Confederation decided to withdraw the organization of the tournament from Argentina, on May 31, 4 days after the request to host the tournament was submitted in full.
Hours after announcing the official withdrawal of the organization from Argentina, “CONMEBOL” announced the assignment of organizing the tournament to Brazil.
The tournament will be held in 4 cities and 5 stadiums, namely: “Maracana and Nelton Santos” in Rio de Janeiro, the Olympic Stadium in Goiania, “Pentanal” in Cuba and the National Stadium in Brasilia.
Brazil hosted the 2019 Copa America, which won the title.
Brazil is still negotiating
Despite the announcement by CONMEBOL that Brazil would host the tournament, Luiz Eduardo Ramos, Chief of Staff of the Brazilian Presidency, caused a surprise.
He said: “We have been very criticized by some conservatives and others for being so public. Nothing is confirmed yet. I want to point out very clearly. We’re in the middle of the process, but we won’t be shy about ordering.”
“It is important to stress that this event, if it occurs, will not have an audience. At the moment there are ten teams in two groups. 65 people per delegation. All of them have been vaccinated..
Luiz Eduardo Ramos’ speech comes even though the Confederation of America has thanked Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil, for opening the country’s doors to host the competition.
After the tournament was transferred to Brazil, Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni objected to the decision and announced his rejection of it.
Speaking to the French newspaper L’Equipe, Scaloni said:A short time ago, people were talking about the problem of our country in hosting the tournament and about the efforts of the government and the federation to play it in Argentina, Colombia had already given up, but in the end had decided not to host it with us for health reasons“.
“Now the situation has changed and we have to travel to Brazil, and this explains everything of course, Brazil is in the same (healthy) situation as we are, if not worse than us, this is a very difficult decision to accept, but despite everything we have to play and give our best there“.
“There are still many unknowns, such as accommodation and training grounds, our perspective has changed a lot because previously we knew where we were going to camp with all the precautions, and now we are facing this situation which remains worrying because it is not the ideal place.“.
Scaloni’s talk came after a report by the “ESPN” network, in which it indicated that the Argentine national team made calls with their colleagues in other teams to boycott the tournament and not participate in it.
But Scaloni was not alone in refusing to play the tournament in Brazil. Brazil players and coach Tite also refused.
At first, Tite hinted that his players were not happy with the decision, and said in the press conference for the Ecuador match:We asked the players to focus only on the Ecuador match, they asked to speak directly with the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation. It was a direct conversation. The position of the players is clear. We have a position and we will not announce it now“.
As for Casemiro, he did not attend the press conference for this match, because “The players have an opinion, convey it to the president and they will announce it to the people at the appropriate timeAccording to Titi.
After that, the Brazilian network “Globo Sporty” revealed that the players of the national team “They don’t feel comfortable participating in the Copa America.”
The players demanded another conversation with Ruggiero, with questions about why the country had accepted to host the tournament, given that Colombia and Argentina had abandoned it.
The report added that the Brazilian Confederation believes in the possibility of resolving the crisis and there is no danger of boycotting Copa America.
The report indicated that the FIFA Professional Players Committee encourages players not to participate in the tournament, in light of the unsafe conditions due to the outbreak of the Corona virus in the country.
Before Casemiro came out and clarifies his position and the position of the national team players.
He said after the Ecuador match:Everyone knows our position on the Copa America in Brazil, it could not be more clear. We want to express our opinion more after facing Paraguay“.
“It’s not just me, not just the players who play in Europe. Everyone, including Tite (the coach of Brazil). we are together together“.
This is the situation in South America, days before the start of the tournament, so what will happen in the coming days? Will the tournament be played on time or will it be postponed again?