© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A Mastercard logo appears on a credit card in this image dated August 30, 2017. REUTERS / Thomas White // File Photo
By Carolina Mandl
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Mastercard Inc (NYSE 🙂 has decided to temporarily remove its branding from the Copa America due to criticism of the last minute decision to host the soccer tournament in Brazil, which is marked by one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks.
In a statement to Reuters on Wednesday, Mastercard said it had decided not to “activate” its sponsorship of the Copa America in Brazil after thorough analysis. The payment company remains a sponsor of the tournament, as it has since 1992.
Last week, the organizers of the Copa America, which kicks off on Sunday, unexpectedly moved the tournament to Brazil after co-hosts Colombia were suspended due to unrest and Argentina following a surge in COVID-19 cases.
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who downplayed the severity of the coronavirus and fought bans, backed the move. But public health experts, Supreme Court justices and Brazilian soccer players questioned the wisdom of hosting the tournament with a raging pandemic.
More than 475,000 Brazilians have died from COVID-19, the world’s worst official death toll outside the United States, and experts are warning of a third wave approaching along with winter in the southern hemisphere.
The Brazilian soccer team cited “humanitarian” concerns in a statement criticizing the organization of the Copa America on Wednesday, but pledged to attend the tournament following rumors of a possible boycott.
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