The officials and organizations behind the Copa America said on Tuesday that they believe the event is going okay despite everything that has taken place since it began.
The tournament has just finished the group stage, which ended yesterday with the matches between Chile – Uruguay and Ecuador – Japan. Tournament executives expect the attendance to be much better during the knockout stage, which kicks off later this week.
The tournament opened earlier this month with a match between Brazil and Bolivia. The host of the tournament easily won that match and numbers weren’t so bad there. But the low attendance was easily noticeable during the following matches. One of the lowest numbers was seen during the Peru – Venezuela match, which had entire sections of the stadium completely empty.
The low attendance was also noticeable during other matches, including with teams that are considered favorites to win the tournament. The low attendance was seen again during the match between Ecuador and Japan. Both teams were fighting to earn a spot into the second round but many fans preferred to watch the game at home.
The Chile – Uruguay match yesterday did see a much bigger crowd than most of the matches so far. Attendance was reportedly more than 58,000, a much better number than the 11,000 or 19,000 seen during matches after Brazil vs. Bolivia.
Chile, which has won two straight Copa Americas, appeared to be playing at home, with many fans cheering and supporting their team at the stadium. The team lost against Uruguay but it has advanced to the knockout stage, where it will face Colombia.
Early on, it was believed that the low attendance was due to the high prices and problems with the process of ticket purchases. The tickets were said to be expensive when compared to the monthly salary of the population. Thiago Jannuzzi, manager of the organizing committee, explained that the policy for establishing the prices was accurate. He also went on to say that prices will not be changed to avoid empty seats and that the event has very accessible prices.
Organizers have recently said that tickets are being sold for as low as $15, which is right around the same price as the Brazilian league matches. Even if the prices were low, many of the matches still ended with entire sections empty or with just a few people.
The knockout stage is set to begin later this week and attendance is expected to get a lot better. But the event is now facing other complaints, this time from one of its most popular players.
Argentina’s star Lionel Messi recently complained about the conditions of the fields. He is among the few that have criticized the conditions. His team is coming off a 2 – 0 win against Qatar but the team struggled to score more goals. In one play, Messi was left with the ball close to the goal but it ended with an ugly shot, something we don’t often see from him. That play may have been the one that sparked the criticism since the ball took a much different direction.
Copa America returns this Thursday with a match between Brazil and Paraguay. Brazil ended the group stage as the leader of Group A while Paraguay barely qualified after finishing as one of the third best teams of the tournament.