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Copa America 2021: What you need to know

Tournament will be hosted by Brazil which has reported the second-highest COVID death toll in the world.

Brazil and Venezuela are scheduled to kick off the Copa America at the Mane Garrincha Stadium on Sunday evening in the capital, Brasilia.

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

However, the decision to award hosting rights to Brazil did not go down well with the national side as well as the locals.

As of 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?

Colombia and Argentina were scheduled to host the tournament last year but it was postponed due to the pandemic.

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

A protest banner reads ‘We don’t want the Cup, we want 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 play in the Copa America despite concerns over the late decision to stage the continental tournament in its home country.

Brazilian players used social media to publish a message saying they are “unsatisfied” with South American football’s governing body, CONMEBOL, which decided to move the tournament to Brazil.

They said they did not want to make the organisation of Copa America a political debate, though.

“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.

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

Is the Brazilian public in favour of the tournament?

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

In an extraordinary virtual session, a majority of the high court’s 11 justices decided against plaintiffs who argued the South American championships posed an unacceptable health risk.

However, a poll showed on Friday that nearly two-thirds of Brazilians oppose the country hosting the event amid concerns over the country’s dire COVID-19 outbreak.

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

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

Bolivian Football Federation confirms 3 players and 1 member of coaching staff positive for covid.

They’re in Brazil for Copa America https://t.co/Wcx85PcoJA

— Gabriel Elizondo (@elizondogabriel) June 13, 2021

Have any players tested positive?

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

Venezuela, which plays the opener of the tournament on Sunday against the hosts, has summoned 15 new players for its squad. Three members of its coaching staff were also infected.

Bolivia’s first match in the tournament will be on Monday against Paraguay.

South American soccer body CONMEBOL stressed in a statement that “the matches will be played as scheduled”.

What are the key dates?

The opening game of the tournament takes 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 taking part?

This tournament was originally scheduled to feature 12 teams – 10 members of South America’s football confederation with Qatar and Australia invited as guest nations.

However, Qatar and Australia pulled out due to a clash of fixtures given the rearranged World Cup 2022 qualifiers leaving the rescheduled tournament with 10 teams.

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

What is the tournament format?

The top four sides from each group will go through to the quarter-finals after the completion of the round matches.

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