Friday the United States will play Columbia in the opening match of the Copa America Centenario, it will be the first time the competition has been held outside of South America in its history. It’s a chance for American audiences to get up close and personal with some of the world’s biggest superstars, or at least the superstars that will actually be coming.
Some of the biggest names in world football will be missing out on the Copa America, mostly because of injury, though in some cases players priorities lie elsewhere. Naturally players will always miss time due to injuries, but for a special tournament such as the Copa America Centenario, it’s disheartening for many fans who won’t be able to see players like Neymar.
Suggested XI of players who will miss Copa América. #Silva #Luiz #Marcelo #Fernandinho #Costa #Neymar pic.twitter.com/r8fHMDWJ0o
— Seleção Brasileira (@BrazilStats2) June 1, 2016
Brazil and Neymar is a special case. Despite being healthy, the Brazilian won’t be travelling to the US for the Copa America. It seems as if Brazil are placing a much higher emphasis on this year’s Olympics being held in Rio. Brazil has never won an Olympic gold, and they seem determined to exorcise the demons of 1950 and 2014. Neymar is going to focus on the Olympics and would rather not expend the energy in the US this month. Brazil is also without big names such as Douglas Costa, David Luiz, Marcelo and Thiago Silva in a mix of injury problems, and just plain being left out of the squad.
Manager Dunga will field a youthful side in the States, but for the high cost of a ticket to the Copa America, it’s hard luck for fans who wanted to see some of their favorite internationals. Advertisements leading up to the tournament has done a fine job pointing out that there is still plenty of world-class talent coming. Kobe Bryant was quick to point out in one commercial that Messi, Suarez, Sanchez, Chicharito, and Rodriquez are all still planning to play. But plenty of teams will be missing some big names for various reasons.
Even though it’s likely to be a great tournament, it’s still unfortunate for the viewer to miss out. It’s great news for the clubs, however. Bayern Munich would much rather Costa spend his summer getting healthy, instead of playing in an international tournament. Club football is a big business, and a lot of players might rather sit out due to a minor injury if the organization that pays them millions of dollars on a yearly basis thinks that it’s not worth the risk. Kaylor Navas, who just won the Champions League with Real Madrid won’t be featuring for Costa Rica because he is also nursing an injury. Bad news for Costa Rica fans, great news for Zidane and the rest of Real Madrid.
None of this, of course, is anyone’s fault. Clubs want to protect their investments, and players don’t want to risk their earning potential by rushing back from an injury too soon. There have been instances of clubs telling little white lies to keep their star players away from international breaks during the season, but that’s neither common nor easy to prove.
There is very little anyone can do to enforce participation with international teams. Michel Platini once threatened to suspend Franck Ribery from Bayern Munich if he wouldn’t accept a call-up to the French national team, but that was ludicrous. You’d have to be delirious or Platini to think that was a good idea.
There is still plenty to be excited about with the Copa America this summer, and the US federation will be proud to host the event. The inevitable fact that players will miss out due to injury and personal reasons shouldn’t detract from what should be a memorable summer in the US. Plenty of fans will be bummed out but, Neymar or no Neymar, the show will go on.