After health authorities in the Ecuadorian city of Guayaquil stepped in to impede tonight’s Copa Libertadores football match between Rio de Janeiro-based club Flamengo and local side Barcelona, pressure from the sport’s governing bodies could see the match go ahead regardless.
After multiple Flamengo players and staff members had tested positive for Covid-19 upon arrival in Guayaquil, municipal officials moved to temporarily close Barcelona’s Estadio Monumental, forcing the game’s postponement.
However, South American football confederation Conmebol has reportedly put pressure on Ecuador’s federal government to force the game to take place. Guayaquil mayor Cynthia Viteri tweeted that “the Estadio Monumental has not been closed” and that they are awaiting a statement from the Ecuadorian Health Ministry.
“Mobile bubble” is no bubble at all
Last week, as the continental tournament resumed following a six-month hiatus, we at The Brazilian Report explained the risks that a transnational competition in South America would entail — with players traveling between countries where the Covid-19 pandemic is not controlled. Conmebol talked about creating a “mobile bubble,” that is, a set of sanitary guidelines that would keep coaching staff and players as isolated as possible.
It took less than a week for this bubble to burst.
After losing seven players to the coronavirus, Flamengo were unable to fly replacement squad members to Guayaquil — or even hold outdoor training sessions — due to poor air quality as a result of ash from the nearby Sangay volcano. On September 20, the volcano’s activity increased considerably, spewing large plumes of ashes, gas and steam.