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THE Copa America begins on Wednesday and top German clubs, in particular Bayern Munich, are furious that their players have to participate in a competition surrounded in such contoversy.

German-based stars Giovane Elber, Lucio and Claudio Pizarro are due to play in the South American tournament held in Colombia with their respective employers fearing the worst.

"What use is Elber if he has a bullet in his head?" said Bayern general manager Dieter Hoeness bluntly.

Host nation Colombia has witnessed a plethora of incidents over the past few months with kidknappings, bombings and death-threats concerning managers and players alike.

Bayer Leverkusen defender Lucio (pictured) has gone AWOL ahead of the South American showpiece after failing to meet up with the rest of his team-mates in Rio.

The Brazilan Football Federation reportedly faxed their German counterpart requesting that Lucio travel to Colombia.

However, Bayer management have given their support to the 23-year-old with general manager Reiner Calmund declaring: "We would rather risk a ban by Fifa than have some criminals kidnap our player in Colmbia."

The dramatic nature of the situation was demonstrated when Deportivo La Coruna midfielder Mauro Silva changed his mind while boarding the plane.

"I am not in the right frame of mind to play there," conceded the Brazilian.

Indeed the only Bundesliga star seemingly intent on playing in the Copa is Elber, incurring the wrath of the Bayern hierarchy.

"Nobody asks me what I want. Safety? If that is the case then I can never go on holiday in Brazil again," stated the opinionated striker.