Brazil's President Bolsonaro wants to celebrate the Copa America like 2019
Seldom has a soccer tournament generated less enthusiasm. When the Copa America actually kicks off in Brazil on Sunday, numerous obstacles will have been overcome. The postponement due to political unrest, protests by players and, last but not least, the Covid-19 pandemic left the event on the brink for a long time. From a sporting point of view, the Copa could be quite interesting, the path to triumph will probably lead through defending champions and neo-hosts Brazil.
Originally, the 2020 South American Continental Cup should have taken place in Argentina and Colombia, but everything turned out differently. First the tournament was postponed by a year due to the pandemic, then both organizers dropped out one after the other. Colombia asked for a postponement as the country has been held in suspense by numerous protests and riots since the end of April. The South American football association CONMEBOL refused, a little later it also canceled the organization in Argentina. A strong corona wave is currently raging there, and there is a hard lockdown.
Then Brazil stepped in two weeks before the start of the tournament. The largest country on the continent had already hosted the 2014 World Cup and the 2019 Copa America. But this decision caused criticism, Brazil for its part is struggling with the pandemic. Some governors took a stand, the national players around superstar Neymar thought publicly about a boycott.
In the end, however, the footballers gave in in a joint statement: “We are against the organization of the Copa America, but we will never say no to the Brazilian national team.” President Jair Bolsonaro, who is considered to be trivializing the corona virus, campaigned for the implementation and prevailed. Most recently, his plans were confirmed by the STF Supreme Court.
The Brazilians have legitimate hopes of winning the title, it would be the tenth overall. The last edition won the team around superstar Neymar and is currently playing in top form. There were just as many victories to celebrate in six games in the World Cup qualifiers. The favorites also include Copa record winners Uruguay and the Argentines with Lionel Messi.
It could be the last chance for Messi to win a title with the national team. He will be 34 years old during the tournament, Argentina won the Copa America for the last time in 1993. It is also still unclear which club the world star will play for in the future, Messi's contract with FC Barcelona expires at the end of June. Recently there was speculation about a move to Inter Miami, but an extension with Barcelona is also in the room.
After the visiting teams Australia and Qatar have withdrawn, ten nations will compete in this year's Copa America. They play for promotion in two groups of five teams. Four teams each make it to the quarter-finals, only one is eliminated. The final will take place on July 10th in the legendary Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. The corona virus will probably not rest during the tournament. No fans are allowed in the stadiums, the players are barracked in their accommodations.