Cartoons Aug 13, 2020

Brazil: where a football match is worth more than 100,000 lives

Yes, Brazilian football has returned. As we said on our weekly podcast, imagine having 60 groups of between 30-40 people each, flying around the country meeting each other, in close contact, without wearing masks. With Covid-19 infections not showing any sign of a decrease. It seems like a recipe for disaster, and it is exactly what Brazilan teams are facing right now. 

In the second weekend of August, after arguing about the Covid-19 tests that should have been carried out before the match, São Paulo giants Palmeiras and Corinthians faced each other for the final of the state championships. Days after the game, it was reported that two players of Corinhians’ starting lineup had tested positive for Covid-19. Hours after the final, Corinthians president Andrés Sanchez argued against testing the athletes, fearing that his team could lose its best players. 

But this incident is not the only one that showed how football administrators are more concerned about the game than with the health of their players.  During the week, first division club Atlético Goianiense appealed to the Brazilian football confederation (CBF) for the right to field four of their players, who had tested positive for Covid-19, in a match against champions Flamengo on Wednesday evening.

Their appeal was successful, and Atlético won the match 3-0.

But the idea that “there is no risk” in having infected players taking part in matches is not just common sense, it’s actually the CBF’s official line. The confederation’s medical head Jorge Pagura said the players were “nearing the end of their infection” and had quarantined for 10 days, claiming that their potential to transmit the virus has reduced greatly.

And we are talking about elite clubs, who largely have the structure to test their entire squads on a regular basis. In lower divisions, the conditions are much worse. Though the players’ union in São Paulo has threatened to take the CBF to court in order to stop the national championship, it is unlikely that things will change. 

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