Players and staff from the Brazilian national team wrote a letter on social media on Wednesday criticizing the Copa America tournament’s organization but stating that they would still participate if the tournament went ahead.
The tournament, which is the largest international football tournament in South America, will begin on June 13 in Brazil.
“We are a cohesive group, but with different ideas. For various reasons, whether humanitarian or professional, we are dissatisfied with the conduct of the Copa America by CONMEBOL [South America’s Football Confederation], whether it was hosted later in Chile or even in Brazil,” the unsigned document read.
“All recent facts lead us to believe in an inadequate process in its realization.”
The team, however, stressed that “at no time” did they want “to make this a political discussion.”
“We are against the organization of the Copa America, but we will never say no to the Brazilian team,” the statement concluded.
According to Brazilian press reports, the players were concerned about possible retaliation from CONMEBOL and the Brazilian Football Confederation’s (CBF) managers and leaders in response to the letter.
CONMEBOL, in collaboration with the Brazilian federal government, led by President Jair Bolsonaro, announced just last week that Brazil would be the new host of the Copa America, following sanitary and political issues with Argentina and Colombia, the tournament’s original hosts.
The Copa America’s new venue has drawn criticism from both the South American football community and the Brazilian public.
Concerns have been raised in Brazil about how the coronavirus pandemic is being handled.
According to the World Health Organization, there have been nearly 17 million confirmed cases and 473,000 deaths in the country. Over 65 million vaccine doses have been given out.
The CBF is also dealing with management issues, with president Rogerio Caboclo being temporarily removed from office on Sunday following allegations of sexual harassment by a CBF employee.
According to Brazilian press reports, players and staff were dissatisfied with Caboclo’s handling of the Copa America situation, and his removal helped calm the locker room.
In a press conference held shortly after the public letter was released, manager Adenor Bachi Tite denied that he would resign if Caboclo remained in office.
“I thought about working. I’m not a hypocrite. I’m not alienated and I know things happen. But I know how to prioritize,” said Tite.
The Copa America has been postponed by one year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“There is no evidence that [Copa America] increases the level of Covid-19 contamination among athletes,” Brazilian Health Minister Marcelo Queiroga said on Tuesday, defending the government’s decision to host the tournament.
Queiroga made the remarks during a Senate hearing on the Brazilian government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The minister claimed that the most recent edition of Brazil’s national football championship, which ended in February this year, went off without a hitch, and that only one case of Covid-19 was linked to the event.
The CBF, on the other hand, stated in a report released in March that the championship was responsible for hundreds of cases among Brazilian football players.