By Samindra Kunti in Rio de Janeiro
July 2 – ‘Why are we so incompetent?’ lamented famous Brazilian football journalist Juca Kfouri last Friday when Chile’s team bus got stuck in Sao Paulo’s traffic gridlock en route to their quarter-final with Colombia at the Arena Corinthians.
The defending champions defeated Carlos Queiroz’s Colombia in a match that had to be delayed for 30 minutes, highlighting the organisational problems blemishing this Copa America.
In the first round the focus was on the empty seats that dominated the stadiums in Brazil as a result of costly tickets. Ticket prices started at 120 reals ($31), scaring fans away. It left organisers embarrassed, but they didn’t consider lowering prices. Instead, some tickets were given away to local municipalities in a bid to fill up stadiums a little more and prevent an eerie atmosphere at some matches.
For the quarter-finals stage ticket sales improved. Three quarter-finals had more than 40,000 fans in the stadia. In Salvador, Uruguay vs Peru wasn’t a big draw with just 21,180 supporters witnessing the Peruvians knock out one of the tournament favorites from the penalty spot.
With the tournament reaching its business end, the focus has now shifted to on-field problems – quite literally: Lionel Messi and Brazil coach Tite have complained about the state of the pitches at the tournament and on Monday the hosts were forced to practice at the training complex of Atletico Mineiro in Belo Horizonte to protect the field at the Mineirao stadium. In Porte Alegre Brazil had also been unable to train at the Arena do Gremio on the eve of their quarter-final, because of similar concerns over the pitch.
Logistic have also been a cause of complaints with teams claiming their hotels are too far from the training grounds and that, like Chile, they have been stuck in traffic. “The hotel logistics, on game day, have been very difficult, especially in São Paulo,” said Brazil’s Thiago Silva. “On training day, it took us about an hour to get there. It could have been done a little better. I hope next time this will be the case.”
Earlier in the tournament Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel had already complained about logistics which he deemed below par for a tournament with the tradition of the Copa America.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1601332629labto1601332629ofdlr1601332629owedi1601332629sni@o1601332629fni1601332629