The five biggest controversies at the 2019 Copa America
We list the five biggest controversies of the 46th edition of the Copa America.
1. The VAR
One of the new things at this Copa America was the introduction of the VAR after its successful use at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Although it led to more correct decisions and its application was good in most games, it was heavily criticised by players and coaches for being too slow. Even obvious offside decisions were taking three minutes to decide on and there were also complaints about when the VAR comes into play and when not.
Argentina and Lionel Messi were highly critical of the system after the semi-final between Brazil and Argentina saw possibly the worst use of the VAR in the whole tournament when referee Roddy Zambrano did not give two penalties to Argnetina. The VAR did not call him to review either incident which led to Messi claiming that Brazil "controls" CONMEBOL.
In the third place play-off, Messi was unfairly sent off and he once again slammed the refereeing saying that the "Copa America was set up for Brazil to win" and he did not go to pick up his bronze medal because he "did not want to form part of that corruption."
2. The poor state of the pitches and logistical problems
The poor state of the pitches in some of the stadia was also a recurring problem.
The teams were hardly ever able to train on the playing surfaces prior to their fixtures. The stadia in Salvador and Porto Alegre were the two out of the six arenas used which got the most criticism.
Lionel Messi, Diego Godin, Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and some coaches like Tite, Lionel Scaloni, Carlos Queiroz and Felix Sanchez were angered by the pitches.
Thiago Silva of Brazil also criticised the torunament for putting teams in hotels a long way away from the stadia. In fact, the tie between Colombia and Chile had to be delayed 20 minutes because Chile got stuck in traffic in Sao Paulo.
3. Invitation to Qatar and Japan
"The Copa America must be only for South American teams", said Rafael Dudamel, the Venezuela coach, just a week after the start of the tournament. Eduardo Berizzo of Paragyay also spoke among the same lines.
Japan and Qatar were invited to the tournament and they will host the next two major spotting events in the 2020 Olympics and the 2022 World Cup.
Neither of the two sides made it out of the group phase and the Venezuela coach argued that Japan disrespected the competition by fielding an under 23 side.
4. Half empty stadia and high ticket prices
The half empty stadia for many of the 26 matches are different to CONMEBOL's stats which say it has been 'positive'.
According to the confederation, 900,000 people attended the stadia during the tournament. The best attendance was registered at the final at the Maracana with 70,000 people attending.
Hugo Figueredo, CONMEBOL's competition director, called it the best ever Copa America.
38.7 million reales (10.1 million dollars) were made in ticket sales for the final, the best ever for a game in Brazil. It beat the 22.4 million reales (5.8 million dollars) for the Brazil v Bolivia game which did not sell out.
5. No extra time in the quarters
There was also criticism that the quarter-finals went straight to penalties after 90 minutes. This led to the underdogs playing for penalties and three of the four matches ended goalless.
"I don't understand how there is no extra time in such an important competition. What is the difference for the semis and the final? Either you have it or you don't have it," said Thiago Silva.
Lionel Scaloni, the Argentina coach also agreed with him. "I don't agree with not having extra time in the quarters."