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LatinNews Daily - 02 June 2021

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BRAZIL: Plans to host Copa América go ahead despite criticism

On 1 June, a judge on Brazil’s supreme court (STF), Ricardo Lewandowski, asked the federal government led by President Jair Bolsonaro to provide explanations for its plans to host the Copa América regional football tournament in the midst of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.  

Analysis:

Lewandowski’s order came a few hours before the Bolsonaro government confirmed that Brazil would indeed be hosting the football championship, despite severe misgivings that this could precipitate the onset of a third wave of Covid-19 infections in the pandemic-stricken country and represent a risk to visiting football teams. With criticisms as to the public health implications of welcoming the Copa América games and little economic incentives given the matches will be played to empty stadiums, it is unclear what the Bolsonaro government stands to gain from its decision.

  • Lewandowski’s request for information “considering the importance of the matter and the public health emergency resulting from the coronavirus outbreak” was issued in response to a complaint filed by the opposition Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT) the previous day. The Bolsonaro government has five days to respond.
  • Despite widespread backlash following the South American football confederation’s (Conmebol) announcement that Brazil would host the championship instead of Argentina, Bolsonaro yesterday expressed his support for Brazil to receive the Copa América. He then went on to confirm that the country will host the championship, which is due to start on 13 June, in four states: Rio de Janeiro, Mato Grosso, Goiás, and the Federal District.
  • Bolsonaro cited the other football games which are currently taking place in Brazil, such as the Copa Libertadores regional club competition and the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, saying “We decided that...following the same protocols, we were in a position to host the Copa América in Brazil”. Chief-of-staff Luiz Eduardo Ramos also confirmed that the games would be played without an audience.   

Looking Ahead: The assurance that sanitary protocols will be put in place to minimise the public health risk of hosting an international championship may dispel some of the concerns regarding the Brazil-based Copa América; but should Lewandowski find these protocols and the government’s explanations to be lacking, he could rule that the Brazilian government cannot host the championship.