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Football: Rio Mayor Says He Can Cancel Copa America Games

The mayor of Rio de Janeiro said he might not give his blessing to matches in his city, including the final at the Maracana AFP/YASUYOSHI CHIBA

RIO DE JANEIRO: The mayor of Rio de Janeiro said on Friday (June 4) that he would not hesitate to cancel the Copa America games scheduled in his city if the COVID-19 pandemic worsened.

The league was transferred to Brazil from Argentina on Tuesday. It starts on June 13.

“I don’t see any benefit in hosting Copa America games,” Mayor Eduardo Paes said during his weekly press conference on the health situation.

“We didn’t ask for the Copa America and if you want my opinion, I don’t think this is the right time to host such a tournament.

” The mayor said that while club matches, such as the Brazilian league and the Copa Libertadores, were played behind closed doors in Rio, a decree was in effect until June 14, the day after the opening game of the Copa America in Brasilia.

“But if the situation worsens, we will have another decree and that will put an end” to football competitions in the city, he said, adding that the organizers had “at no time contacted the municipal health authorities”.

Rio will host the first of eight Copa America matches on June 14, between Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Chile at the Nilton Santos Stadium, the site of the 2016 Olympics athletic events.

The stadium will host seven matches. including a semifinal. The final is scheduled for the city’s iconic Maracana Stadium.

The Copa, which was postponed by 12 months due to the pandemic, would be co-hosted by Colombia and Argentina.

But the South American Confederation (CONMEBOL) ignored the former on May 20 due to violent anti-government protests, and the latter on Sunday due to a wave of Covid-19.

On Monday, the surprise announcement that Brazil would host the tournament instead of Argentina and Colombia sparked an avalanche of criticism in Brazil, where nearly 470,000 people have died from Covid-19.

But CONMEBOL wanted to thank far-right President Jair Bolsonaro for “opening the doors of his country”.

The head of state, whose handling of the pandemic has been heavily criticized by most experts, made numerous statements this week in favor of Brazil’s Copa America.

He said it made sense to host such a tournament when the country has already hosted international club competitions such as the Copa Libertadores.

Several stars from other South American countries, such as Luis Suarez from Uruguay, have already spoken out against holding the Copa America during the pandemic.

Rumors of a boycott are also starting to come out of the Brazilian team. Several media report that coach Tite may be resigning due to a disagreement with his federation over the organization of the tournament in his country.

Tite said on Thursday that he had a “very clear” opinion on the matter and would express it after the second of two 2022 World Cup qualifiers, this Friday night against Ecuador and Tuesday against Paraguay.