April 14 – In an act of football diplomacy, China and pharmaceutical company Sinovac have donated 50,000 doses of their Covid-19 vaccine to Conmebol, with the South American governing body indicating it will inoculate top-flight players around the continent.
“This is a huge step forward to beat the COVID-19 pandemic, but it doesn’t mean that we will in any way relax,” said Conmebol president Alejandro Domínguez in a statement.
Uruguay President Luis Lacalle Pou brokered the deal with Sinovac and Conmebol said that he “was crucial for the completion of a deal of great importance for South American football”.
Domínguez thanked Sinovac “for understanding that football is a fundamental activity for the economy, the culture, and the physical and mental health of South Americans.”
Claiming to be the first confederation to get its hands on vaccines, Conmebol plans to distribute the doses to its ten member associations, who can then inoculate their top flight players, as well to vaccinate its own personnel. The move is a tep towards part protecting the governing body’s two flagship competitions, the Copa Libertadores and the Copa America, due to be co-hosted this summer by Argentina and Colombia.
But with South America and Brazil becoming the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, questions will be raised over the need to inoculate players and Conmebol’s priorities. Brazil has recorded more than 358,000 deaths. In Argentina, coronavirus cases have hit a record high. Bolivia has closed its borders due to a spike in cases and Chile has postponed its elections due to a coronavirus surge despite a vaccine rollout.
Public scrutiny aside, Conmebol’s plans might hit other roadblocks. Globo reports that the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) would have to request authorisation to ANVISA, the country’s Health Regulatory Agency, to receive the doses and even so under current legislation the CBF would have to hand over the doses to SUS, Brazil’s national health service.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1638848350labto1638848350ofdlr1638848350owedi1638848350sni@o1638848350fni1638848350