Brazil players criticise decision to host Copa America but rule out boycott

    Brazil’s players have criticised the decision to hold the Copa America in their country.

    South American Football Confederation Conmebol moved the tournament from Argentina on 1 June.

    Co-hosts Colombia had already been dropped amid civil unrest there.

    “For different reasons, be they humanitarian or professional, we are not satisfied with the way the Copa America has been handled by Conmebol,” the players said.

    Brazilian media had reported the team were unhappy at not being consulted about the decision. But the players’ statement said they had never considered boycotting the tournament.

    The statement, posted on the players’ personal social media accounts, appeared soon after the team beat Paraguay 2-0 in a World Cup qualifier in Asuncion – the first time they had won in the country since 1985.

    Brazil has recorded more than 475,000 deaths attributed to coronavirus, the second highest number in the world after the US.

    However, Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has defended the decision to allow the tournament to go ahead in his country, insisting it did not pose a health risk.

    Players did not address the pandemic directly.

    Argentina was stripped of the tournament just two weeks before it starts, on 13 June, with organisers citing coronavirus and the “present circumstances”.

    Colombia was removed as co-host on 20 May because of civil unrest there.

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