June 22, 2021

The Copa América begins on Sunday in Brazil after overcoming judicial barriers


The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro.

The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro.
Juan Diego Montegro / DPA

The America Cup will finally start next Sunday in Brazil, after The Supreme Court will reject three appeals this Thursday who were trying to prevent the tournament of football South American for the very high incidence of covid-19 in the country. The last judicial obstacle that remained for the celebration of the tournament fell on the Supreme Court, which in a majority decision ratified the jurisprudence already established by the court in the sense that the last word on sporting events in the midst of a pandemic belongs to each of the governors of the 27 states of the country.

In football terms, the ruling was heading towards a “win”, as the first six of the eleven members of the court who voted rejected the three lawsuits against the tournament attempted by two political parties and a union, thus giving the final character to sentence. In the end, the main demand to prevent the tournament from taking place was unanimously rejected (11-0), the second to veto the legal acts that make the championship viable had a 9-2 vote in favor of the Copa América and the third, to interrupt the preparations, ended with an 8-3 favorable to the sporting event .

These actions alleged the lack of control of the health crisis in a country that already adds almost 480,000 dead and it is on the verge of a new pandemic wave as an argument to prevent the realization of the championship, which will bring together ten teams from South America.

The only exception put by the court is that a security protocol be presented, which according to the South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) will be similar to that of other tournaments held in Brazil and the region, which keep the delegations in rigid “bubbles” and with matches played without an audience.

A ruling supported by a jurisprudence that Bolsonaro condemns

The decision of the Supreme Court was supported by the vote of the investigator of the case, Carmen Lucia Antunes, who stressed that already in previous sentences the court had determined that governors and mayors have the power to suspend or release activities in their territories, are economic, social and even sporting. In this particular case, Antunes said that “it is up to them to define, enforce and control the protocols so that there is no ‘copavirus’, which is a source of infections and transmission of new strains.” He also pointed out that local authorities, “if that were the case,” could be held responsible in the future “for their administrative decisions” and the consequences that they eventually generate.

The jurisprudence that gave rise to the ruling has been condemned on various occasions by the Brazilian president, Jair bolsonaro, who accuses governors and mayors of having “destroyed jobs” by suspending economic activities to contain covid-19. However, that same legal basis now allows the holding of a tournament that the far-right Bolsonaro did not hesitate to accept once Argentina and Colombia gave up organizing it. Bolsonaro celebrated on his Thursday program that broadcasts the Court’s decision live on social networks and confirmed his presence on Sunday in the opening match in Brasilia between the host team and Venezuela, which “we are going to massacre, because the rivalry it just has to be in football, “he said.

The timid resistance of the players and fears of the companies

On May 31, when Conmebol announced that Brazil would host the Copa América with Bolsonaro’s permission, a wave of criticism by Brazilian political sectors, to which health experts and even many players added. There were contacts between the South American teams and Brazil’s squad even considered not playing, although those threats did not prosper and, even with a critical position, all the players have decided to participate. “We are against the organization of the Copa América, but we will never say no to the Brazilian team,” said players and members of the Canarinha coaching staff, disclosed this Tuesday.

However, criticism of the tournament resonated with some of the companies that sponsor the Copa América. The American multinational Mastercard announced on Tuesday its decision not to promote its products in this edition of the America’s Cup, and so did Ambev, the Brazilian subsidiary of the Belgian multinational AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer. This Thursday, the firm Diageo, owner of brands such as Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Tanqueray, spoke in the same direction, which as well as the other companies will refrain from promoting their products in this tournament.

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