The South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) said Argentina was removed as host because of the “present circumstances”. Argentina is currently experiencing a surge in Covid-19 cases.
“Conmebol thanks the president @jairbolsonaro and his team, as well as the Brazilian Football Confederation for opening the doors of that country to what is today the safest sporting event in the world. South America will shine in Brazil with all its stars!” Conmebol said on Twitter.
But Brazil has not came through the COVID pandemic unscathed, as the country has seen nearly 463,000 deaths
It is this large death count that on Tuesday made a Supreme Court judge order President Jair Bolsonaro to provide more information on the decision.
The Supreme Court has given Mr Bolsonaro five days to submit information on the government’s decision to host the tournament after the opposition Workers’ Party filed a suit objecting to the tournament.
Mr Bolsonaro has announced that four states including Rio de Janeiro will host the matches however fans will not be able to attend. At least six states said they would not be hosting matches due to the pandemic, AFP news agency reports.
Mr Bolsonaro said the decision was not up for discussion and that the tournament, which involves players across South America, did not pose a health risk.
He said on Tuesday that he had spoken with the health minister and they had agreed to host the event.
‘We have to live’
“As far as it is up to me, and all the ministers, including the health minister, it is all decided,” Mr Bolsonaro told his supporters in Brasilia.
“From the beginning I have said about the pandemic: I regret the deaths, but we have to live,” he added.
Ultimately this is all about the money. Officials from Conmebol have time and time again been arrested for bribery. TV Networks have paid millions for the rights to this tournament, but cancelling the event, which many say would have been the most sensible decision, would have resulted in huge losses for the organizers. So they are playing Russian roulette with the health of many of the best footballers in the world. What could go wrong?