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São Paulo to allow football teams to return to training

. Jun 17, 2020
São Paulo to allow football teams to return to training Photo: Cesar Greco/Palmeiras

Following the successful return of football across Europe’s main leagues in recent weeks, São Paulo authorities are set to allow the state’s clubs to resume training activities after a three-month hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Antonio Olim, president of the state’s sporting court, clubs will follow a strict protocol of testing and social distancing guidelines before a subsequent return to competitive play can be discussed. All athletes will have to undergo a first round of coronavirus testing before showing up to training facilities and the use of masks will be mandatory for players — except from during training — and staff.

The news comes one day after the Rio de Janeiro Football Federation (FERJ) scheduled the return of its state championship for Thursday, despite strong opposition from two of its biggest clubs. Encouraged by the successful return in Europe, Rio de Janeiro clubs Flamengo and Vasco da Gama have been at the forefront of calls for the return of football in Brazil.

Yet, with 157 footballers testing positive for Covid-19 in early June – including 16 from Vasco da Gama alone – Rio de Janeiro shows a much higher tally of infected athletes than the entirety of England’s Premier League, set to resume play this afternoon. These figures coupled with the still high Covid-19 curve in Brazil suggest a very premature, and possibly dangerous, return of football in the country.

On the flip side, many Brazilian clubs face serious financial repercussions if football does not return soon, as the pandemic may cost the football industry as much as BRL 2 billion (USD 380 million) in revenue losses. 

São Paulo will now join Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, and Rio Grande do Sul as the group of states that have authorized the return of football practice. According to Mr. Olim, it will likely take another month of preparation and close monitoring for official games to be allowed in the state.

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Rafael Lima

Rafael is a Communication student at Wake Forest University, and a student fellow of the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

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