KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Sponsor Mastercard has withdrawn from backing the Copa America now that hosting of the imminent South Championship has been switched to Brazil.

The controversial government of right-wing, Covid-denying President Jairo Bolsonaro stepped in last week after the withdrawals of original cohosts Colombia and Argentina because of security and health concerns.

Brazil’s Supreme Court is due to rule on Thursday on protests against the hosting.

A statement from Mastercard, a tournament sponsor since 1992, said: “After a careful analysis, we decided not to activate our sponsorship of the Copa América in Brazil.”

The Copa América was postponed from last year because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is due to start on Sunday and run through to the final on July 10.

On Monday Luiz Fux, president of Brazil’s Supreme Court, said it would rule on Thursday in extraordinary session on appeals against the staging from the Workers’ Party (PT) and the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB).

Brazil, with more than 475,000 deaths and 17m infections, is the Latin American country worst affected by Covid-19, second in the world in terms of deaths and the third with the most positive cases, behind the United States and India.

In the last seven days, it has reported 60,000 cases and 1,650 daily deaths linked to the disease.

In the four host cities, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Cuiabá and Goiania, the public health system is under severe pressure with occupancy rates for intensive care units ranging from 70 to 90pc.