Copa America kicks off in Brazil this Sunday

The Supreme Court ruled in favour of holding the South American competition, taking into account the serious health situation in the country
el brasileño Dani Alves sostiene el trofeo después de ganar la Copa América  AFP/PEDRO UGARTE

AFP/PEDRO UGARTE  -   Brazilian Dani Alves holds the trophy after winning the Copa America

After a judicial struggle in the highest courts of the country, the Supreme Court rejected the three appeals that were introduced to cancel the celebration of the Copa America in the South American giant. The last appeal was annulled yesterday, which, within the Supreme Court, took a majority decision and thus ratified the jurisprudence on sporting events and how administrative powers are the responsibility of the governors of 27 states in the country.

Panorama de la Copa América 2021, con grupos, estadios y jugadores estrella AFP/AFP
AFP/AFP-Overview of the Copa America 2021, with groups, stadiums and star players

It is the latest move to throw into doubt a tournament that lost its original co-hosts, Colombia and Argentina, and faces resistance from fans and players amid alarming COVID-19 figures in the region. Supreme Court president Luiz Fux scheduled the extraordinary session last Tuesday so that he and 10 other judges could cast their votes electronically. Judge Carmen Lúcia said there is "exceptional urgency and relevance in the case, which requires a quick conclusion". The case was brought by the Brazilian Communist Party and a metalworkers' union, which argued that Brazil should not hold an international competition while social distancing is required. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, is a strong advocate for his nation to hold the competition following a last-minute request from South American football body CONMEBOL. He has spoken out against social distancing approaches and claimed that the financial effect of business closures kills more than the infection. More than 474,000 people have died of the disease in Brazil.

el presidente brasileño Jair Bolsonaro sostiene el trofeo de la Copa América  PHOTO/AFP
PHOTO/AFP-Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro holds the Copa America trophy.

Venezuela and the Brazilian national team are scheduled to open the Copa America at the Mané Garrincha stadium on Sunday night in the capital Brasilia. The Brazilian Communist Party said in its application to the court that "the intense circulation of guests in the national region will clearly spread COVID-19 infection in some states, as well as possibly allowing the spread of modern variants". The competition will be played in three states, including crowded Rio de Janeiro, as well as the country's governmental location, Brasilia. Brazil has facilitated South American World Cup qualifiers and the continent's club competitions, such as the Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana.

el brasileño Dani Alves levanta el trofeo después de ganar la Copa América PHOTO/AFP
PHOTO/AFP-Brazilian Dani Alves lifts the trophy after winning the Copa America.

Before Tuesday, the Minister of Health, Marcelo Queiroga, defended Brazil for hosting the Copa America, introduced a request to the Senate on the government's management of the competition "without participation inside the stadiums, we will not have the possibility of curbing social distancing and reducing the greatest number of contagions," said Queiroga. "The possibility of a person contracting COVID-19 will be the same whether the games are on or off. I am not saying that there is no danger, but that there is no additional risk," said the minister.

El brasileño Neymar (2-R) celebra con sus compañeros Gabriel Jesus (L) y Lucas Paqueta después de anotar un penalti contra Ecuador  AFP/ SILVIO AVILA
AFP/ SILVIO AVILA-Brazil's Neymar (2-R) celebrates with teammates Gabriel Jesus (L) and Lucas Paqueta after scoring a penalty against Ecuador. 

The competition will feature some of the biggest names in world football, including Argentina's Lionel Messi and Sergio Agüero, Brazil's Neymar and Uruguay's Luis Suárez and Edinson Cavani. CONMEBOL has guaranteed that all players will be vaccinated at some point recently during the competition. Fans are not expected to attend the stadiums, but Bolsonaro said the same welfare conventions that have been put in place for other football competitions will be taken.

Latin America Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.