Brazil forced to explain decision not to wear gay No. 24 shirt at Copa America

A judge has asked the Brazilian Football Confederation why they didn't assign the number 24 to any of their players at the ongoing Copa America tournament this summer amid claims of homophobia.

Having traditionally utilised the numbers 1 to 23 sequentially for their squad, the increase in size to 24 players suggested that the number might well have been in use.

While Manchester City stopper Ederson was handed 23, Aston Villa's Douglas Luiz has been wearing 25, and there is no player between them with Leo Ortiz the next highest with 22.

With the other nine teams at the tournament all handing out the No. 24, judge Ricardo Cyfer has asked Brazil about their decision, though the five-time World Cup winners have insisted the decision was not a deliberate one.

The link between the number and homosexuality comes from an illegal street gambling game called The Animal Game or Jogo do Bicho, in which 24 is assigned to the deer.

Deer is 'veado' in Portuguese, while 'viado' is a homophobic slur in Brazil.

In offering their response, the Brazilian FA have dismissed any connection, insisting that the numbers are organised for sporting reasons and nothing else.

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The CBF said of the decision: "The initial regulation of the Conmebol Copa America 2021 ("Competition") determined that only 23 players could be entered.

"This number of athletes is traditionally observed in Conmebol and FIFA international competitions.

"The numbering used by athletes is related to sports issues only.

"Initially, the organisation of the competition established the use of numbers 1 to 23 sequentially, which was done by the Brazilian team when registering 23 athletes.

"However, later on, the Competition Regulations were changed and 5 additional places were granted, due to the possibility of changing players due to possible contamination by COVID-19."

On the pitch, Brazil have booked their place in the semi-finals with a knockout victory over Chile, having won three and drew once across four group stage outings.

Star forward Neymar said of the result: "Chile are a good team, they have great players and it is very difficult with a man less. Everyone deserves praise – the defence, the midfield, the forwards.

"We managed to withstand something that rarely happens to this team. It was a big test for us."

Should they progress past Peru on Monday, Brazil will face either Argentina or Colombia in the final.

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