fuboTV  (NYSE:FUBO)  has a lot riding on the Qatar World Cup qualifying games that kicked off on June 3.

As the exclusive rights holder to livestream the 70 soccer matches of the South American Football Confederation, also known as CONMEBOL, the sports livestreaming platform has an opportunity to get tens of millions of new fans to sign up for its service.

With fuboTV's plans to launch a new sports betting platform later this year and seamlessly blend the two operations into a cohesive whole, the qualifying matches represent a huge revenue opportunity.

Yet the controversy over where the Copa America portion of the games will be played could upset those plans.

A country at risk

Copa America is the oldest and arguably most prestigious football competition of national teams. Started in 1910 as part of celebrations around Argentina's independence, Chile, Uruguay, and Brazil also participated.

Back then, the tournament was called the Campeonato Sudamericano de Selecciones, but it changed to Copa America in 1975 and in 1993 began inviting teams from outside South America to compete. The U.S. and Mexico were the first teams permitted entry, though no outside club has ever won the tournaments.

This year Copa America was to be co-hosted by Columbia and Argentina, but CONMEBOL pulled the 10-nation games from Columbia because of civil unrest and Argentina backed out because of a spike in coronavirus cases.

CONMEBOL chose Brazil as the location of the games, but an outcry arose over the country's choice because of the large number of COVID-19 deaths that have occurred there, some 479,000, which is second only to the U.S.

With players complaining about the location choice, multinational companies began dropping their sponsorship of the games, potentially undermining the games and putting fuboTV's opportunity in jeopardy.

A case of cold feet

AmBev  (NYSE:ABEV) , the Brazilian unit of Anheuser-Busch InBev  (NYSE:BUD)  and sponsor of the Brazilian national team, announced "its brands will not be present at the Copa America," as did Mastercard  (NYSE:MA) , which said it would not "activate" its sponsorship of the games, something it has done since 1992.

That was followed by global spirits distributor Diageo  (NYSE:DEO) , which said it was withdrawing sponsorship of Copa America "given the current Brazilian health situation and out of respect for this moment of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Parties have gone to court to try to block Brazil from hosting the games, but the country's Supreme Court rejected the injunction bids and said the games could proceed, though they ordered various health and safety measures be implemented.

There also don't seem to be any boycotts of the games yet. While the Brazilian national team had called out "humanitarian" concerns over locating the games in their home country, it said it would still play.

An exclusive opportunity

This is why the qualifying games are so critical for fuboTV. To contain the possible spread of COVID-19, Brazilian officials are holding the games without fans present in the stadium, and the teams will undergo testing every 48 hours. Players will also have their movements restricted as they travel between the four host cities.

That means fans will need to find alternative means of watching the games, and with the sporting event's huge global popularity, fuboTV has a unique opportunity to see a massive influx of new subscribers to its streaming service.

Select English-language games will be available to subscribers who have the fubo Sports Network, but they will only be available on fuboTV and not through the network's usual off-platform distribution partners, such as ViacomCBS' Pluto TV.

The Copa America games will be free to current fuboTV subscribers, while new subscribers need to sign up for one of fubo's plans and then add the CONMEBOL & More package for an additional $7 per month. That package includes eight other premium sports channels featuring soccer, baseball, football, basketball, and more.

It's still game on

fuboTV looks like it will avoid a collapse of the Copa America games, though other CONMEBOL games are going off without a hitch so far. As long as other major sponsors stay put, the teams don't boycott, and there are no COVID-19 outbreaks among players, it should be a success.

The situation, though, shows just how fragile the sporting world still is as it emerges from the pandemic and tries returning to a sense of normalcy. fuboTV, though, still has enormous growth prospects before it.

Spectators are seen at the 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals in New York City in July 2019 Spectators are seen at the 2019 Fortnite World Cup Finals in New York City in July 2019 Photo: AFP / Johannes EISELE

This article originally appeared in the Motley Fool.

Rich Duprey has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Mastercard. The Motley Fool recommends Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, Diageo, and fuboTV, Inc. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.