Brazil to welcome fans for World Cup qualifier against Uruguay

world cup match coronavirus
Arena da Amazônia, in Manaus. Photo: Arnika Ganten/Shutterstock

During an interview with radio station CBN, Amazonas Governor Wilson Lima said fans will be allowed into the stadium to watch Brazil’s football World Cup qualifying match against Uruguay, to be held in Manaus on October 14. Roughly 13,000 spectators are expected to be allowed into the 44,000-seater Arena da Amazônia.

This will be only the second time the Brazilian national team has played in front of its home fans since the beginning of the pandemic. In July, around 5,000 people were invited to watch Brazil’s Copa America final defeat to Argentina in Rio de Janeiro — but massive gatherings were nonetheless reported.

The capital of the northern state of Amazonas, Manaus suffered not one, but two health system collapses during the pandemic. In January of this year, hospitals ran out of medical oxygen causing multiple patients to die of asphyxiation — in a scandal which highlighted massive incompetence from local and federal authorities who failed to prevent the shortages.

On September 5, the Brazil-Argentina World Cup qualifying match ended in a fiasco. Federal health authorities intervened and put a stop to proceedings after just a few minutes of play. Agents of federal health regulator Anvisa, flanked by Federal Police marshals, stormed the field to remove four Argentinian players who had disrespected Brazilian sanitary rules upon entering the country.

Brazilian football teams are feuding with one another over the right to allow fans back into stadiums. On Wednesday evening, Rio de Janeiro club Flamengo welcomed 25,000 fans to watch their Copa do Brasil match against Grêmio after permission from the courts. The club has sought similar authorization to sell tickets for Brazilian league matches, sparking a revolt from 17 clubs in the country’s top division.