Copa America sponsors, Mastercard, beer brand Ambev distance themselves from the tournament

Mastercard and beer giant Ambev, two top sponsors of the Copa America, said Wednesday they were pulling their brands from the troubled tournament.

The South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) was set to commence the competition as coronavirus cases overwhelmed the South American nation. Co-host Colombia was also dropped due to massive social unrest and protests against the country’s president, Ivan Duque. Brazil was suggested as a host by CONMEBOL authorities. Subsequently, President Jair Bolsonaro confirmed the Brazilian government’s support to hold the Copa America 2021 in Brazil.

Despite the low rate of vaccinations and the contrasting high death rate in Brazil due to the coronavirus, the government has expressed its support for the competition to be held. More than 463,000 people have died with COVID-19 in Brazil, second only to the United States. Experts predict another wave of the pandemic to hit the country by late June. Residents in more than 80 cities took to the streets to protest against Bolsonaro’s handling of the pandemic.

“After careful analysis, we have decided not to activate our sponsorship of the Copa America in Brazil,” Mastercard said in a statement. The decision means the US credit card giant will not place its logo inside stadiums or on promotional materials in Brazil. However, it will continue to respect its contract as a tournament sponsor, the value of this sponsorship has not been made public.

Ambev, the maker of many of Brazil’s best-selling beers, later joined in, saying “its brands will not be present at the Copa America.” The company is a part of global beverage giant AB InBev, said it “continues its commitment and support for Brazilian football,” but did not give further details.

Less than 11% of the Brazilian population has been fully vaccinated, according to Our World in Data, an online research site. The Copa America 2021 was set to begin on 13 June with the final match being played on 10 July but due to the new changes, the actual dates are yet to be confirmed.

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