When I learned that the Copa America wasn’t being picked up by any big sports broadcaster, with Premiere Sports having the right in the UK, I was sceptical as to why no-one wanted to have it. There’s a lot of wonderful talent in South America that have shown their competitiveness in the last World Cup, along with a lot of world stars gracing the pitch.
However, as the tournament reaches its final stages, it’s not difficult to see why there wasn’t a big rush from companies to get the Copa America on their channel.
It’s been a really tempestuous tournament so far, with most of the headlines being taken by the petulant actions of players both on and off the field. It started with Neymar, one of the real jewels of the tournament and in real form at Barcelona, losing his cool against Colombia.
He should have been sent off before he was eventually red carded, rightly, before setting off on a verbal triade at the referee. It wasn’t pleasant to see, especially from such a wonderful player who’s had such a positive season and he ended his tournament early.
Then one of the host’s stars, Chile’s Arturo Vidal, was caught up in a DUI car-crash just a day after his country’s draw against Mexico. Hardly a time to celebrate and despite his nation denouncing his actions, it hasn’t stopped him playing and Chile advancing to the final.
It’s only gotten worse, Edinson Cavani was sent off for an altercation with Gonzalo Jara that’s left neither player looking very good. Jara provoked Cavani with a cheeky bum poke, ending his tournament and in turn, it looks likely that he’ll leave his embarrassed club Mainz this summer too.
Cavani didn’t cover himself in any glory, he looked annoyed throughout the game before lashing out at Jara, which could be forgiven, but his triad at the referee should not. It came just days after the news that his father was involved in a fatal car crash with a motorcycle, so his head might have been elsewhere but at the same time, you shouldn’t behave like that or if it’s likely to happen, don’t play.
Despite some exciting moments and passionate football breaking out at times, the tournament overall hasn’t been excellent. No extra-time has meant more urgency from some teams but more security for others, Colombia tried their best to sneak through by barely playing against Argentina and luckily, it didn’t work.
It’s a real shame that all of this will overshadow some good moments, much like Argentina’s 6-1 win against Paraguay in a thoroughly entertaining affair but in all honesty, it currently has a bit of an image crisis. A little bit of a revamp might be in order, more discipline should be shown from the players and organisers need to find a structure that will propel this competition further into the public’s subconscious as one of the best in the world.