This can be possibly the best Copa América in decades. Pundits, people on the streets and even the managers and players are suggesting it. Despite the loss of Luis Suárez, if you combine stellar names as Messi, Agüero, Neymar, Alexis Sánchez, Vidal, James, Falcao, Cavani, among others; the quality of excelled football is guaranteed.
Word of mouth on the streets of Bogotá, Santiago de Chile or Buenos Aires is that there are 4 teams viewed as the possible title contenders. Brazil and Argentina for their history, quality of squad and hierarchy; and very close to them, Chile and Colombia. The former is the host country; it is their duty to win their first Copa América at home. They have a very well-balanced squad and they continue the process they started with Sampaoli halfway through the 2014 WC Qualifications. The latter shone to the world last year with a vivid, fun-loving football that captivated even the most skeptical fan. They have a strong team, a good manager, and winning their second Copa América can prove them right as the best golden generation of Colombian football.
For us, the Latin American fans, winning the Copa América brings up a special feeling, a sense of euphoria. It is not only the oldest tournament in the world for National Football Associations (going back to 1916 when it was first played), but it is possibly the hardest to win. At least 7 out of the 12 competing squads are very competitive and picking up the 4 semi-finalists at once is not an easy task. We understand it and that is why we follow it with fervent passion.
Our passion for football will definitely change our daily lives. Throughout these 3 weeks, productivity will slightly decrease in the offices, the trending topic of discussion will be the Copa América; we will pray, laugh, scream and cry. Much of our energies will be dedicated to our unofficial second religion: football.
In addition, many rivalries will emerge. Brazil and Argentina are like the Real Madrid-Barcelona binomial of Conmebol. During the last World Cup we experienced how Argentinian fans could not be happier when Brazil was smashed by Germany in the Semi-Finals and their fan chant“Brasil, decime qué se siente”(Brazil, tell me, how does it feel) was institutionalized on the Brazilian streets. Fortunately for them, the Brazilians were the last to laugh when Argentina lost to Germany.
Take another rivalry; the one between Chile and Perú. Not so posh as the former one but they have a history between them that goes back to the era when Peru was an impressive side that frequented World Cups and won the Copa América. A group of Peruvian fans altered the lyrics of the chant to create the “Chile, decime qué se siente”and it is now all over the news and social media.
Sadly, it is one of the darkest hours for Football Governance with all the events linked to the#FIFAgate. This edition of the Tournament will not be any exception, with the ball rolling amid twin criminal probes into bribes and bank fraud at FIFA. And Conmebol has their hand on the mud, with two former presidents and two other regional football chiefs among the nine FIFA officials who were arrested. Furthermore, Datisa, the company under scrutiny for those allegations will still be in charge of the TV broadcasting and commercial exploitation of the Copa América. Journalists claim that there was an informal suggestion to avoid the subject and that players, fans and media should focus on the ball. It may be a facet of the Latin culture to not face directly the problem
On a local basis, the inauguration of the Copa America was followed by protests led by social movements in Chile. Claiming for less inequality, an education reform and a social structural shift, diverse groups went onto the streets of Santiago to raise their voice. Futbol Rebelde, a social movement that uses football as a vehicle towards a more equal society, arranged informal matches in some of the most iconic places of Santiago to raise awareness on the topic. The police rapidly charged against them, but these pictures exhibit the beauty of footballs as a symbol of identity and common objectives.
This video (in Spanish) shows how the demonstrations took place:
In FanVox expect that fans enjoy and expose their passion throughout the whole tournament. But we especially support that supporters encourage themselves to raise their voice, take action and make things happen for a better football.
Let the ball roll!