Sao Paulo, Jun 9 (EFE).- Ambev, the Brazilian affiliate of Belgian multinational AB InBev, the world’s largest brewer, announced Wednesday that it will not exhibit its logos or sell its products at the Copa America to be held in Brazil starting next week with the coronavirus pandemic out of control in the South American giant.
The firm is the second sponsor to back out of this edition of the soccer tourney after US multinational Mastercard, which a few hours ago announced that it will not “activate” its sponsorship of the Copa America in Brazil, where the competition has been scheduled after Colombia and Argentina – the original sites – refused to host it.
Ambev said in a short statement provided to EFE that its brands will not be present at the Copa America, adding that it remains committed to supporting Brazilian soccer but citing “humanitarian” concerns about sponsoring the tourney.
The competition, which in 2020 was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, initially was to have been held in Colombia and Argentina, but both those countries refused to go through with it for different reasons.
Colombia backed out due to the serious protests staged there and Argentina cancelled because of the critical circumstances its hospitals find themselves in due to the pandemic, a situation very similar to the one that prevails in Brazil.
That was when Conmebol, the organizer of the tourney and the top authority in South American soccer, made a surprise announcement that Brazil would host the competition after getting the green light from President Jair Bolsonaro, who continues to deny the seriousness of Covid-19, and the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF).
The decision to transfer the Copa America to Brazil was widely criticized by political sectors across the board, from the far left to the moderate right, and also by health care authorities.
With more than 475,000 deaths and 17 million confirmed cases of Covid-19, Brazil is the Latin American country hardest hit by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the No. 2 country after the US in terms of Covid deaths and the third-ranked nation in terms of positive Covid test results, following the US and India.
Last week, speculation was rife about a possible boycott of the tourney by soccer players, allegedly headed by the Brazilians, who ultimately opted to compete, although they criticized the way in which the Copa America is being organized.
Nevertheless, the competition remains alive for now, although the Brazilian Supreme Court starting next Thursday will review two lawsuits calling for the suspension of the Copa.