Copa America 2021: what you need to know |  Football news

Copa America 2021: what you need to know | Football news

Brazil and Venezuela kick off the Copa América on Sunday evening at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in the capital Brasilia.

The tournament, which was postponed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, was confirmed in Brazil just two weeks ago.

However, the decision to grant the hosting rights to Brazil did not go down well with both the national side and the local population.

By Sunday, Brazil had reported more than 17.3 million cases of the coronavirus, including at least 486,000 deaths, the second highest number in the world.

How did the tournament come to Brazil?

Last year, Colombia and Argentina were supposed to host the tournament, but that was postponed due to the pandemic.

Last month, Colombia was dropped amid a wave of protests against President Ivan Duque, while Argentina was banned due to a rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.

A protest banner reads: ‘We don’t want the cup, we want a vaccine! Out Bolsonaro’ outside the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil [Pilar Olivares/Reuters]

Why is the national side not happy?

Brazil’s national football team reluctantly agreed to participate in the Copa America, despite concerns over the belated decision to host the continental tournament domestically.

Brazilian players took to social media to publish a message saying they were “not happy” with the South American football governing body, CONMEBOL, which decided to move the tournament to Brazil.

However, they said they did not want to turn the organization of the Copa America into a political debate.

“We are against organizing the Copa America, but we will never say no to the Brazilian national team,” the players said in a joint statement.

The Brazilian head coach lashed out at Copa America on Friday, saying the players and officials had informed the national football association of their reluctance to play before the decision was made to move it to Brazil.

Does the Brazilian public support the tournament?

Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the country can host the Copa America despite the coronavirus pandemic.

In an extraordinary virtual hearing, a majority of the 11 Supreme Court justices ruled against plaintiffs alleging the South American Championships posed an unacceptable health risk.

However, a poll on Friday showed that nearly two-thirds of Brazilians oppose the country hosting the event out of concern about the country’s severe COVID-19 outbreak.

According to an XP/Ipespe poll, 64 percent of respondents were against organizing the cup, while 29 percent were in favor.

The poll was based on 1,000 interviews, conducted from June 7 to 10.

Have any players tested positive?

Eight Venezuelans and three Bolivian players tested positive before the tournament kick-off.

Venezuela, which will play the opener of the tournament against the hosts on Sunday, has called up 15 new players to the squad. Three members of the technical staff were also infected.

Bolivia’s first game in the tournament is Monday against Paraguay.

The South American football organization CONMEBOL stressed in a statement that “games will be played as scheduled”.

What are the most important dates?

The opening game of the tournament will take place on June 13. The knockout phase starts from July 3 with the first of the quarter-finals.

The final of the tournament will take place on July 11.

How many teams are participating?

This tournament was originally planned for 12 teams – 10 members of the South American Football Confederation with Qatar and Australia who were invited as host countries.

However, Qatar and Australia withdrew due to a clash of matches, given the rescheduled 2022 World Cup qualifiers, leaving the rescheduled tournament with 10 teams.

group A: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela
Group B: Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay

What is the tournament format?

The best four matches from each group advance to the quarter-finals after the round matches.

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