Dudamel adds voice to criticism of Copa America that is struggling to catch fire

By Samindra Kunti in Rio de Janeiro

June 19 – Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel criticised the organization of the Copa America on Tuesday after his team’s impressive 0-0 draw with hosts Brazil in Salvador.

The first matches of the Copa America have been blighted by costly tickets and empty stadiums, and even on Tuesday, Brazil’s match-up with Venezuela Salvador failed to sell out in a traditional stronghold for the Seleção in the northeast of the country. Organisers have resorted to handing out free tickets to local municipalities: 5,000 tickets were distributed to Rio de Janeiro’s town hall for the Peru vs Bolivia game in Group A.

At the Fonte Nova Stadium, Dudamel offered what he deemed “constructive criticism” for the local organisers, expanding the debate after he, alongside Argentina caretaker coach Lionel Scaloni, had questioned the quality of the pitch in Salvador.

“When we go to a Copa America in Brazil, you think of the best scenario possible, but we were surprised,” said Dudamel. “Logistics and hotels have not been up to scratch for a Copa America, much less in Brazil. It’s constructive criticism.”

The comments will have come as a further embarrassment to organisers, who have struggled to generate excitement and a positive image around this tournament. The atmosphere has been very low-key and ahead of another Copa America next year this edition has felt like a contractual obligation and nothing more.

It hasn’t helped that the hosts have failed to find their A-game. In Salvador, Brazil laboured to a 0-0 draw with Dudamel’s side and were booed off the field. Against Bolivia, in their opening game, they had been jeered off at half-time. The Brazilians scored twice, but those goals were ruled out by the VAR.

“VAR was correct,” said Brazil coach Tite. “I have absolutely nothing to demand. We got justice,” Brazil coach Tite said. “They made the right call with both [VAR] goals.”

Brazil remain top of Group A with four points from two games and on Saturday play Peru in their final group game in Sao Paulo.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1563388093labto1563388093ofdlr1563388093owedi1563388093sni@o1563388093fni1563388093