With Covid-19 rampant, Rio sports tribunal orders Fluminense and Botafogo to play

June 24 – Fluminense and Botafogo will return to action this weekend after accepting the decision of a local sports tribunal to reschedule the clubs’ matches to Sunday.

After a final attempt at reconciliation between the two Rio clubs and the state’s football federation failed, the STJD, a local sports tribunal, partially upheld the request of both Fluminense and Botafogo to not have to play immediately. Instead, the tribunal ruled that the clubs can’t be forced to play their game on match day 4 of the Carioca championship before June 28.

In a statement, Botafogo did little to hide its discontent, saying that the resumption of play at this moment is a “bad example” of people who “have lost their common sense”.

It read: “It is embarrassing to be forced to compete in the only country that plans football matches with an average of more than 1,000 deaths and 30,000 infections per day. The only one in the world to start matches with this number of deaths and cases. (…) Playing with these numbers is a lack of respect for the dead and their families. It is playing amid a funeral record.”

Botafogo, however, won’t appeal the decision and Fluminense is expected to accept the ruling as well. The state federation had scheduled matches of both clubs on Monday, June 22. Fluminense and Botafogo repeatedly voiced their desire to not return to action before July, citing concerns over the coronavirus crisis.

Last week, however, Flamengo defeated Bangu and Portuguesa drew with Boavista as the Carioca championship resumed, but Rio mayor Marcelo Crivella moved in after the weekend to suspend the competition again.

Brazil has been struggling to contain the coronavirus pandemic and on Tuesday announced another 1,374 fatalities. The country has a total death toll of 52,645 according to the latest data of the Johns Hopkins University, with both the state and city of Rio de Janeiro at the centre of the crisis.

It didn’t prevent current Brazilian champions Flamengo from pushing for a quick restart, but both Fluminense and Botafogo felt it was too soon to play football again in the current circumstances.

Contact the writer if this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1601541093labto1601541093ofdlr1601541093owedi1601541093sni@o1601541093fni1601541093