The champion of America suffers from an outbreak of coronavirus. The president, the coach and 16 footballers, among others, tested positive for Covid-19. For Sunday’s game against Palmeiras he has only 10 professionals available.
In less than a week, 27 members of the Flamengo delegation, current champion of America, tested positive for coronavirus, including 16 footballers, of which 6 were starters in last Tuesday’s match against Barcelona in Guayaquil for the Copa Libertadores . The technical director and the club president are also infected. The Rio team must visit Palmeiras on Sunday for the Brasileirao and He requested the suspension of the game, although both his rival and the authorities of the Confederation adhere to the protocols that govern and refuse to stop the ball.
It has been three months since football returned in Rio de Janeiro. At the end of June, when in Brazil the death toll from Covid-19 reached 50 thousand people, Flamengo came out to play Maracanã and beat Bangú 3-0. Before the game there was a minute of silence for Jorginho, his historic masseur.
Jorginho had worked at the club for 40 years and shared a dressing room with the golden generation led by Zico. Until May 5, the day Jorginho died of coronavirus, Flamengo had confirmed 38 positive cases in the club, among managers, assistants and players.
The powerful Rio club, whose president, Rodolfo Landim, is a bishop of the first president Jair Bolsonaro, was the one that pushed the return of football the most. Even in clear opposition to the position of two other greats in the city such as Fluminense and Botafogo who asked to wait. “The good student, who studied, prepared for the test, arrives to take it, but the one who did not study wants to postpone it”, remarked the president of the Rio de Janeiro Federation, Rubens Lopes, to tip the balance for Flamengo’s side and fuel the return of football.
Having lost the arm wrestling, Botafogo decided -at least- not to play at home in the Maracaná since in the same venue, a couple of meters from the mythical space A field hospital had been set up for coronavirus victims.
This Tuesday, Flamengo asked the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) to postpone the Brasileirao match against Palmeiras, scheduled for Sunday in São Paulo. The vice president, Rodrigo Dunshee, justified the request by the “contact intensity” their players had in the two Copa Libertadores games they played in Ecuador, the 5-0 defeat last week against Independiente del Valle in Quito and the 2-1 victory against Barcelona in Guayaquil.
“I hope that the CBF will analyze the issue fairly, thinking about everyone’s health and the exceptional situation that was the eight-day trip,” he pointed.
The secretary general of this entity, Walter Feldman, has already set a position. He said the Confederation allowed teams to register up to 40 players, anticipating cases such as the Rio de Janeiro club. “Obviously they have a squad to enter the field, make substitutions and the game must be played. When a club has infected, it separates them and continues playing”, he pointed.
A day after Flamengo’s request to postpone the match and seeing that cases in Brazil’s most popular club continued to increase, the CBF published a study indicating that Out of 9,690 tests carried out on 1,939 players and coaches of all categories since the resumption of football, only 182 positives (1.9%) were detected.
Palmeiras also opposed a postponement. “The protocol adopted for the competition contemplates situations of this type. There are, therefore, no reasons for the game not to take place”, declared its president, Mauricio Galiotte.
The vice president of Flamengo replied: “They seek to have an advantage, even at personal risk.”
Three hours after the start of the second meeting in Ecuador, the Guayaquil health authorities were ready to suspend the game. Even, with the endorsement of the mayor, Cynthia Viteri, they reported that they were disabling the Monumental stadium where Barcelona had to play host to Group A of the Copa Libertadores. Conmebol won the tug of war by stating that the approved protocols were being met, the national government deactivated the conflict and the game was played as scheduled.
The warning signal of the doctors who had arrived at the Hilton Hotel to ascertain the situation of the Flamengo campus was supported. To the already confirmed positive cases that had been isolated, others could be added at any time. And so it happened.
There were 17 new cases that were detected when arriving in Brazil after the 2-1 victory in Ecuador. The coach, the Spanish Domènec Torrent; eight players, the defenders Leo Pereira, Thuler and Rodrigo Caio; left-back René, midfielders Willian Arao and Éverton Ribeiro, all starters against Barcelona, and substitutes Joao Gomes and Gabriel Batista; five members of the technical committee and three directors, the president Rodolfo Landim, the vice-president Marcos Braz and the director Dekko Roismann.
Thus the list amounts to 27 staff members since -after the defeat suffered by Independiente del Valle- in the swabs made in the previous match of the second cup match, 10 cases had already been reported, including seven players: defenders Filipe Luis, Matheuzinho and Mauricio Isla, the midfielder and captain Diego and the attackers Bruno Henrique, Michael and Vitinho,
In addition to these casualties, Gabigol, Diego Alves and Pedro Rocha are injured. As for the game on Sunday the team presents 10 professional football players in solo: César, Hugo Souza, João Lucas, Ramon, Gerson, Thiago Maia, Arrascaeta, Pepê, Lincoln and Pedro.