With Brazil in full corona-crisis, Flamengo head to Maracana to restart Carioca

June 17 – Brazilian champions Flamengo are pressing on with ‘Project Restart’ in Rio de Janeiro, but local rivals Botafogo and Fluminense have said they will go to court to prevent the season from resuming. 

Brazil has become the new epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic with the overall death total now standing at more than 45,000. But despite this the Rio giants Flamengo have been unflinching in their determination to get the ball rolling again.

In May they broke quarantine by returning to their training complex, the Ninho de Urubu, defying local health measures. Now they want to push ahead with a restart of the Carioca state championship, despite objections from Fluminense and Botafogo, two of Brazil’s most storied clubs.

Rio’s state federation has green-lighted a restart of the Carioca but Botafogo president Nelson Mufarrej said the decision was “disconnected from reality” and that legal action will be taken on the grounds of health and safety.

“Unfortunately, the majority of clubs understand that this is the time to play games again, in spite of the chaotic scenes were living through right now,” said Mufarrej in a statement. “We’re against it.”

But in a meeting of the clubs, Vasco da Gama and a block of small clubs sided with Flamengo who, on Thursday, have scheduled a match against Bangu at the Maracana. The grounds of the stadium are currently home to a field hospital where Covid-19 patients are being treated.

Fluminense president Mario Bittencourt said: “Ignoring the risks of the pandemic and even the risk of injury to athletes due to lack of adequate training time, the body chose to maintain this imprudent position, setting dates of June 22 and 25 for Fluminense. Therefore, there is no other alternative for the club than to seek measures in sports courts to assert what is right.”

The Brazilian FA (CBF) will attempt to kickstart the national championship once the local state championships have concluded.

Brazil has 921,189 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 45,241 people have passed away from the disease in the country, according to the latest data of the Johns Hopkins University.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1601086678labto1601086678ofdlr1601086678owedi1601086678sni@o1601086678fni1601086678