The world’s oldest tournament, Copa America kicked off from June 14 in Brazil amidst plenty of controversy revolving around the schedule and venue changes of the tournament. Then there was the curious case of Marcelo Martins’ ban which made the headlines all around South America. It was a turbulent start to the tournament but soon on-field performances became the main talking points.
The tournament started with a grand win for the defending champions and the host, Brazil and was followed by a high-intensity draw between Argentina and Chile. We are more than halfway through the group stages, and here’s what has been happening in the Copa America 2021.
MARCELO MARTINS BAN
As mentioned before, Bolivian striker Marcelo Martins was banned by the football authorities, CONMEBOL after the striker criticised the organising committee regarding the change of venue for the Copa America and hosting the tournament bang in the middle of a pandemic. Martins was one of three Bolivia players who tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of their 3-1 opening loss to Paraguay. He missed the game and took to social media to blame the CONMEBOL for the way they handled the situation and was fined 20,000 dollars for the same, as well as was banned for one game.
Brazil’s Health Ministry has confirmed that 27 players and officials have tested positive for the coronavirus so far. It all started with the Brazilian Supreme Court deciding the fate of the tournament on the eve of the kick off day. The host nation Brazil is the second-worst nation when it comes to deaths related to COVID-19 and having a tournament in such devastating conditions was always going to be a point of contention. Then there was the breach in protocol by the Chilean team. The squad violated the Covid-19 protocols as they had a barber visit them in their hotel.
Though there have been plenty of off-field distractions, the football played in the tournament has been of high class. A few of the world’s best talents have been on display in this edition of the Copa America and we have seen some of them step up already in the early part of the tournament. The top two favourites of the competition, Brazil and Argentina have had a brilliant start and remain as the unbeaten side along with Chile. Neymar Jr seems determined to step up for his country as he has netted two times in two games already. Lionel Messi scored in Argentina’s opener but since then has failed to find the back of the net. With his side already through to the next round, expect the Argentine forward to step in the coming few matches.