Bolsonaro wants Copa America in Brazil as Aguero casts doubts - GulfToday

Bolsonaro wants Copa America in Brazil as Aguero casts doubts

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Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro speaks about the country’s hosting of the 2021 Copa America during a ceremony on Tuesday. Reuters

SAO PAULO: Argentina forward Sergio Aguero has cast doubt on holding the Copa America while the coronavirus pandemic rages in the region, just hours after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro pushed ahead with late plans to host the tournament.

Bolsonaro on Tuesday said five governors have agreed to host matches in the South American continental event, which is scheduled to kick off June 13. But Aguero and the international players’ union, FIFPRO, are not convinced the tournament should go ahead.

CONMEBOL, which governs South American soccer, chose Brazil as a replacement host on Monday after Argentina was dropped because of the spread of COVID-19 in that country. Colombia was removed as a co-host on May 20 amid street protests against President Iván Duque.

“It is clear that we are not well here (in Argentina), so that was a correct decision by CONMEBOL. If it is difficult there (Brazil), we cannot play,” Aguero told journalists upon arrival in Buenos Aires.

“We need to have a place we can play. There’s no time, we’ve already lost last year. There was a full year to see where it could be and what could happen, but that changes every month.”

FIFPRO said it has “serious concerns with the process taken to relocate the Copa America” to Brazil.

“Not only is it short notice, but the alternative host is dealing with an alarming number of COVID-19 cases,” FIFPRO said in a statement.

“This decision could have serious implications for the health of the professional footballers, staff and general public.”

The union said it would support any player who decides to withdraw for health and safety reasons from the tournament which has already been delayed by a year.

“As with previous national team competitions during the COVID-19 emergency period, players must be able to prioritize their own and their families’ health without the risk of sanctions.”

Bolsonaro and his administration are also under fire from local lawmakers and health experts for pushing to host the tournament despite Brazil having the second-highest death toll from COVID-19.

CONMEBOL president Alejandro Dominguez announced four cities as hosts: Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Cuiabá and Goiânia. Three of the cities hosted matches in the 2014 World Cup, but Dominguez said the individual stadiums will be announced “shortly.”

“We will be playing matches in those cities with all possible safety, without the presence of fans, with rigid health protocols and in line with health authorities,” Dominguez said in a video posted online. He also thanked Bolsonaro for “the efficiency in the decision-making process.”


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