World News

Brazil 'planning boycott' of Copa America over COVID-19 fears

Tom Gott
Brazil plan to boycott the Copa America
Brazil plan to boycott the Copa America / Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

The Brazil national team are planning to boycott this summer's Copa America amid concerns that South America's governing body, CONMEBOL, are endangering their lives by hosting the tournament in the midst of a COVID-19 surge.

The virus has spiralled out of control in South America, with Brazil itself approaching 500,000 deaths from COVID-19. Original hosts Argentina were stripped of the tournament because of their own virus problem and many assumed that CONMEBOL would postpone the competition and wait for a safer time.

Surprisingly, the decision was made to move the tournament to Brazil, and according to AS, the Selecao squad are livid and have already decided that they will not turn up this summer in protest against CONMEBOL.

On top of obvious concerns for their own well-being, the Brazil squad are furious with the country's FA, the CBF, for volunteering as host despite pleas from the players, all of whom felt hosting an unnecessary football tournament in the midst of the current chaos would be both dangerous and horribly insensitive.

The squad voiced their disappointment to manager Tite and demanded a meeting with CBF Rogerio Caboclo. When told they could not speak to Caboclo, the players began to get very animated and the situation got so ugly that the president nearly sacked team co-ordinator Juninho Paulista for his failure to control the squad.

Real Madrid midfielder Casemiro attempted to address the media on Thursday to reveal the situation, only to be blocked by Caboclo, who ordered Tite to face the press alone to try and calm things down.

"The players have their opinion, they have expressed it to the president and they will make it public in due course," Tite said. "And that has a lot to do with the absence of our captain, Casemiro, here before you.

"We asked our athletes to focus only on the match against Ecuador. We have a priority now, to play well and beat Ecuador. We understand that after the two rounds these situations will be clear.

"I am not avoiding answers and I am giving facts, with the understanding that I have. Copa America is very important. But our match tomorrow is more important."

Carlos Casemiro
Casemiro was banned from speaking publicly / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

With the Brazil players gagged in public, they have instead resorted to contacting friends from other teams in an attempt to organise a continent-wide boycott of the tournament.

Whether they have convinced anyone else is not yet unclear, although Argentina's Sergio Aguero and Uruguay trio Luis Suarez, Fernando Muslera and Giorgian de Arrascaeta have all voiced their concerns already.

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