AP NEWS

Copa America organizers hope short trips bring success

April 8, 2019
This 2019 handout photo released by Col Copa America Brasil 2019, shows the Copa Americas mascot in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Soccer fans will choose the name of the mascot of Copa America in Brazil this year. The organization of the tournament published on Friday two name suggestions for its capybara mascot; Capibi and Zizito. The vote will be open in Copa America's social media feeds until April 12. (Alexandre Loureiro-Copa America Brasil 2019 via AP)

MADRID (AP) — The long distances traveled by teams and fans during the 2014 World Cup in Brazil are not part of the legacy carrying over to this year’s Copa America.

World Cup matches were played all across Brazil five years ago, forcing some teams to travel on average 7,500 miles (12,070 kilometers) in one month.

Copa America 2019 organizers have opted to stage all 26 games of the 12-team tournament being played June 14 to July 7 in five cities in the eastern portion of the country: Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and Porto Alegre.

Organizers believe that shorter flights between the cities will be a key to a successful competition for both players and supporters.

“We didn’t want athletes to travel more than three hours between host cities, we want to preserve their physical recovery and the quality of the game,” organizing committee general-director Thiago Jannuzzi told The Associated Press in an interview by email Monday. “We also took into account the fact that these chosen stadia have staff that frequently operates in soccer matches or other events, like music concerts.”

The largest travel distance will be the 2,000 miles (3,000 kilometers) between Porto Alegre in the south and Salvador in the northeast. The longest flight from Porto Alegre during the World Cup was 3,000 miles (4,900 kilometers) to Manaus.

Rio’s Maracana Stadium, Sao Paulo’s Arena Corinthians, Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao Stadium and Salvador’s Fonte Nova all hosted World Cup matches and will do so again.

Sao Paulo’s Morumbi Stadium, site of the tournament’s opening game, and Arena do Gremio in Porto Alegre were not used in 2014. They were chosen this time because they are modern and will not demand much adaptation.

Arena do Gremio opened in 2012, while the Morumbi Stadium has not needed any recent major renovations even though it opened in 1960.

Jannuzi said “there will be no constructions for the tournament; the organization will not bring costs.”

“We will only make tiny adjustments with temporary installations in the stadia,” he said without citing specifics.

Security is another focus of organizers with fans from 95 countries having bought match tickets.

Last week, supporters of Uruguay’s Penarol and Brazil’s Flamengo clashed in Rio before their teams’ Copa Libertadores match. In addition, Argentine soccer fan groups called “barrabravas” are a major concern for authorities when they travel.

With attacks among hardcore fans linked to criminal organizations rife in Brazil, Jannuzzi said those with a history of violence will be monitored by police.

“A control policy will be made when we have full knowledge about where these groups are going and what is their possible intent,” Januzzi said without giving further details.

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