The 47th edition of the world's oldest tournament – Copa America – was set to take place in Colombia and Argentina before the political unrest and surge in Covid-19 cases took these two countries out of contention to host. In an astonishing turn of events, the 105-year-old tournament was shifted to Brazil despite the country going through both of the aforementioned adversities.
Brazil currently has the second largest death toll, amassing over 480,000 deaths. President Jair Bolsonaro has been abysmal, to say the least, in terms of tackling the pandemic. With no sign of steading the curve, Bolsonaro has decided to host the prestigious tournament.
Bolsonaro, from the dawn of this pandemic, has tried to downplay coronavirus as just a "little flu" and he has been adamant with his stand ever since, in face of all the protests; the virus, with all its might, is causing the demise of around 2000 people on average, every day. Brazilian Senator Renan Calheiros has already launched an investigation into the Bolsonaro government on whether they have taken the most pragmatic approach towards mitigating the crisis. Touting this tournament as the "Championship of Death," he has made a plea to Neymar and Co. to not take the field. Brazil managers and players have been found to be disgruntled on the decision to shift Copa to Brazil, even pondering the possibility of a boycott, which they eventually have decided against.
The 2019 edition of Copa America brought his country around USD 118 million in revenue, which will eventually be spent for stadiums, only to be left empty for the most part. The president is focused on that monetary aspect rather than paying heed to all concerns around bringing in new variants in a country that's going through a fatal third wave of the pandemic. Bolsonaro, after getting the go ahead from the Supreme Court to host the tournament, has even gone on record saying Brazil will "massacre" their opponents rather than addressing the concerns surrounding the lives of his fellow countrymen.
Horrific death toll and all the scathing reports against Bolsonaro have led to a 24 percent drop in his approval rating. Needless to say, he doesn't even bat an eye to what's going on around him. He's aware of the fact that he doesn't have that massive support anymore and has decided to turn the tide in the most outrageous way possible, bringing in football to push people into turning a blind way. Football is heralded as a sanctity in Brazil and Bolsonaro has decided to commit a sacrilegious act by playing with people's lives in the name of football.
Brazil has a long history of corruption and glaring wealth disparity, and the incorrigible far right leader, with his disconcerting round of decisions, has driven the country towards a harrowing situation. The cries of the slum don't reach the high castle of Bolsonaro, where he sits, apathetic, on his gaudy throne. And to the Brazilians' utter disgust, he has decided to sweep all the concerns under the rug by volunteering to host Copa, an exploitative tactic that has been overused in a football frenzied nation; this time though against the demand from any sect of society.
Copa America, tainted by Bolsonaro's bloody hands, is underway and may very well turn into "Championship of Death."
Alavi Ashraf Eram likes to blabber about his favourite movies, songs and sports. Drop him your movie critiques at www.facebook.com/alaviashraf.eram