Brazil lead calls for 2021 Copa América to be cancelled
Senior Brazil players are in contact with other teams as a potential boycott of the Copa América looms over concerns about the covid-19 situation.
Senior members of the Brazil squad are leading a movement to have the 2021 Copa América postponed or cancelled and have opened up talks with other teams participating at the tournament to stage a potential boycott of the CONEMBOL competition in the face of the coronavirus situation in South America.
The tournament was originally due to be co-hosted by Colombia and Argentina in 2020 but was postponed due to the pandemic in line with UEFA’s decision to delay Euro 2020 by a year. Colombia withdrew as a host nation due to ongoing protests in the country against President Iván Duque while Argentina also asked to be removed as a host last week due to the worsening covid-19 situation in the country.
Players including Sergio Agüero, Luis Suárez, Fernando Muslera and Giorgian de Arrascaeta have spoken out against the staging of the tournament under the circumstances and now the Brazil squad is planning on following suit after the decision to move the competition to their home nation, one of the worst-hit countries in the world in terms of covid-19 cases and fatalities.
The Brazil squad learned of Brazil’s offer to host the tournament while at a training base in Granja Comary and their reaction was one of anger and disbelief. Given the situation on the continent, senior Brazil players feel the Copa América should be cancelled and there is anger at their treatment by the Brazil Football Federation (CBF), and its president Rogerio Caboclo. The players feel they have left in an impossible position, where they will be viewed as insensitive to the suffering of their compatriots by being forced to play a tournament they view as entirely unnecessary: this edition of the tournament will be the fourth Copa América in the last six years.
The Brazil squad has expressed its anger to national team coach Tite and asked for a meeting with Caboclo. The summit with the CBF president was tense and served to worsen the situation, with Caboclo threatening to sack Juninho Paulista, the team coordinator, for failing to control the situation.
However, Tite and Juninho have shown empathy with the players from the outset and broadly support the stance of the dressing room. Bad blood between the CBF, the Brazil squad and staff is nothing new while Tite, who is known for his personal touch with the players and his calm persona, has been attempting to shield his side from the wrath of the CBF since Tuesday. The federation, for their part, view the opportunity to host the Copa as a potential political victory during a period of international scrutiny.
Casemiro expected to announce Brazil will refuse to play
Tite prevented Brazil captain Casemiro from appearing before the press on Thursday ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Ecuador, which enraged the Real Madrid midfielder who had intended to lay out his side’s grievances in front of reporters. Tite, worried about the effect the Copa América fallout is having on his side’s performances in the qualifiers, elected to speak to the press alone instead.
“The players have their opinion; they have expressed it to the president [Caboclo] and they will make it public when the time is right. And that is the main reason our captain, Casemiro, is not here in front of you,” Tite told reporters.