Copa America will go ahead in Brazil, says Bolsonaro

copa america bolsonaro
Chief of Staff Luiz Eduardo Ramos (left) and President Jair Bolsonaro. Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR

After South American football confederation Conmebol announced yesterday that Brazil would host the 2021 Copa America — due to kick off in less than two weeks’ time — huge public backlash led to rumors that the Jair Bolsonaro administration could back out of its last-minute offer to stage the international football competition.

However, if it is up to him, said the president this morning, the tournament will go ahead in Brazil.

“The day before last Argentina said it couldn’t host [the tournament] anymore. And in South America, the only country that has the structure to do it, costing us nothing, is Brazil, because we already have the stadiums,” he told supporters gathered outside of the presidential residence.

On Monday evening, Chief of Staff Luiz Eduardo Ramos assured that “nothing had been decided,” leaving the door open for a possible late refusal.

Mr. Bolsonaro, meanwhile, blamed the furore around Brazil’s offer to host the Copa America on leading media conglomerate Globo, which lost the broadcasting rights to the tournament back in 2019. 

“We’re already having matches of the [continental club competition] Copa Libertadores (…) On Monday, the World Cup qualifiers start. No-one says anything, there’s no problem. Why is it that when we talk about the Copa America people start questioning things, saying it provokes public gatherings, that it helps spread the virus, etcetera? It’s pressure from Globo, nothing else.”

The Brazilian government is planning to host the tournament while the country sees an average of over 1,800 Covid-19 deaths per day. Health experts warn of a potential third infection wave that could hit the nation later this month.