Brazil’s covid chaos forces Rio shutdown as clubs scramble to get games played

Brazil eye

March 23 – As the coronavirus pandemic deepens in Brazil, the country’s football competitions have been plunged into chaos with pressure mounting for a complete suspension of the national game.

At the start of the month, the states of Ceara, Paraná and Santa Catarina suspended their state championships, local competitions that precede the national league every year, to combat the Covid-19 crisis, but with Brazil now facing its “worst sanitary crisis in history” according to experts, clubs and federations have been left scrambling to organise matches with a complicated patchwork of ever-changing rules and regulations complicating planning in an already congested calendar.

Rio de Janeiro’s mayor moved to shut down football in his city from Friday onwards when a 10-day lockdown will be enforced, but the state of Rio de Janeiro is still allowing matches to go ahead, leading some clubs to shift their fixtures elsewhere.

Volta Redonda, in the state of Rio de Janeiro, has rapidly become a new hub for matches as state federations and the Brazilian FA (CBF), insist that the show must go on, often pointing at the health protocols that they have in place.

In Sao Paulo, football has been suspended and Corinthians have moved their game against Mirassol in the Paulista championship to Volta Redonda, which is also due to host at least three matches in the Brazilian Cup. But voices in the domestic media and among fans are rising to postpone matches with Brazil having failed to contain the coronavirus. The country is rapidly approaching a death toll of 300,000, the second highest in the world after the United States.

Last year, Brazilian football was also reluctant to shut down. The national league was eventually postponed until August. The 2021 Brasileirao season is due to start on May 30.

Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1638846881labto1638846881ofdlr1638846881owedi1638846881sni@o1638846881fni1638846881