Brazilian players and staff criticize Copa America in a public letter

Brazilian national team players and staff published a letter on their social media accounts Wednesday criticizing the organization of the Copa America tournament, but assuring they would still participate should the tournament go ahead.

The championship, South America’s biggest international football tournament, is set to start on June 13 in Brazil.

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

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

The team, however, stressed that “at no time” did they want “to make this 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.

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The players were worried about possible retaliation from CONMEBOL and the Brazilian Football Confederation’s (CBF) managers and leaders in response to the letter, according to Brazilian press reports.

CONMEBOL, in agreement with Brazil’s federal government backed by President Jair Bolsonaro, announced only last week that Brazil was to be the new host of the Copa America due to sanitary and political problems involving Argentina and Colombia — the original hosts of the tournament.

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

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

According to the World Health Organization, the country has recorded close to 17 million confirmed cases and 473,0000 deaths. More than 65 million vaccine doses have been administered.

The CBF is also currently facing management problems as president Rogerio Caboclo was temporarily removed from office on Sunday after allegations of sexual harassment by a confederation employee.

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Brazilian press reports point out that players and staff were dissatisfied with the way Caboclo conducted the Copa America issue, adding that his removal helped calm the locker room.

Manager Adenor Bachi Tite denied that he would resign if Caboclo remained in office in a press conference early on Wednesday, moments after the release of the public letter.

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

The 2020 edition of the Copa America was postponed by 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 among athletes.”

Queiroga made the comments while testifying at a Senate inquiry into the Brazilian government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

The minister argued that the last edition of Brazil´s national football championship that ended in February this year took place without any major problems, claiming that 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 football players in Brazil.

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