By Andrew Downie
(Reuters) – South American players should be given the opportunity not to compete in this month’s Copa America, the World Leagues Forum (WLF) said in an open letter to FIFA and the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) on Saturday.
The WLF, an organization that represents more than 40 professional leagues and their clubs, said the abrupt decision to move the Copa America to Brazil after Argentina withdrew due to an increase in COVID-19 cases “directly affects leagues.” , their member clubs and their players.”
“As for the WLF, we believe that given this sudden change in venue and circumstances, players should be given the option to withdraw from the competition and clubs should be able to recall their players, especially if there is a travel restriction or a quarantine obligation on their return,” the letter read by Reuters.
It comes the day after Brazil captain Casemiro said the squad would make a statement on Tuesday about whether or not to compete in the Copa America.
According to Brazilian media, the players do not want to play in a hastily organized tournament that starts on June 13. More people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil than in any other country outside the United States.
Zurich-based WLF acknowledged the legal, organizational and financial pressures on CONMEBOL to host a tournament that raised $118 million last played in 2019.
But it also said that players’ opinions should be taken into account.
“As a general comment, we recognize the complexity of CONMEBOL’s current situation,” reads the letter addressed to CONMEBOL Secretary General Jose Astigarraga and FIFA Deputy Secretary General Mattias Grafstrom.
“However, the decision to move the Copa America to Brazil, a country where the health situation is critical, can only give rise to great concern, with 10 days’ notice to organize an event of this magnitude and the relevant strict implement sanitation protocols.
That being said, from the perspective of the leagues and for their member clubs, players have been released in the context of a competition being held in Argentina, not Brazil.
“…Not only are our clubs understandably concerned about and affected by the health of their players…but they are also affected by travel restrictions and quarantine obligations, which depend on the player’s country of origin.”
CONMEBOL did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
(Reporting by Andrew Downie; editing by Christian Radnedge)