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Copa America execs remain positive despite empty seats criticism

Organisers of the Copa America remain positive about the tournament amid criticism over empty seats and complaints from players about the pitches.

After previously expressing that the low attendances “worried” them, tournament executives now said they see no trouble in some matches having higher uptake than others.

The 2019 football competition in Brazil is reportedly expecting attendances to increase to more than 30,000 supporters per game in the knockout stage, which kicks off tomorrow (Thursday).

Monday’s game in Belo Horizonte between Japan and Ecuador saw only 2,100 fans pay for a ticket, while a further 7,600 watched the game for free at the 64,000-capacity Mineirão stadium.

The opening match of Copa America, which organisers advertised as a sell-out, saw 46,000 people attend host Brazil’s game against Bolivia at the 66,000-seat Morumbi stadium. That game reportedly had gate receipts of around $5.7m.

Agberto Guimaraes, director of operations for Copa America, said the organising committee sees no issue in some matches having more appeal than others, according to the Associated Press news agency.

He said: “We are taking care of the whole, and on the whole we are on the positive side.”

Thiago Jannuzzi, general manager of the organising committee, insisted ticket prices are acceptable for the tournament.

He added: “There is a balance between what one can charge and the costs of the event. It was all successful. We are seeing important revenues to deal with our costs. Getting that right is important.”

Jannuzzi said prices will not be reduced to avoid empty seats and that “we have prices that are very accessible.”

In addition, football pitches at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana, Belo Horizonte’s Mineirao, Porto Alegre’s Arena do Gremio and Salvador’s Fonte Nova stadiums have been slated by players for their uneven surfaces.

Organisers have responded by stating they don’t see “a structural problem” in the conditions.

Image: Delta News Hub & Izabel de Lima Fontes