South America postpones World Cup qualifiers

South America postpones World Cup qualifiers
Brazil coach Tite during a practice session of the Brazilian national team in Granja Comary, Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Lucas Figueiredo/CBF

The South American Football Confederation (Conmebol), postponed World Cup qualifiers supposed to start in March. The decision came after numerous managers in the English Premier League said they would resist allowing their South American footballers to play for their national teams if they were required to quarantine upon returning to England.

Managers feared that their players would not be available for potential quarter-final matches of European cups set to be played in April. Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told reporters that sending his players to regions that would require them to quarantine “doesn’t make sense.”

“The Conmebol Council resolved to suspend the double date of the Qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar World Cup […] due to the impossibility of having all South American players in a timely manner,” said the confederation.

Imminent final whistle in Brazilian football

Meanwhile, Brazilian football is about to stop once again. Days after the country registered its all-time record of daily Covid-19 deaths (1,910), four state football federations decided to suspend or postpone their local championships. 

The decision was taken by the states of Santa Catarina, Paraná, Acre, and Ceará. Others are expected to follow suit. In Paraná and Santa Catarina, state decrees banned all non-essential activities. Both states report ICU occupancy rates of above 96 percent. 

In 2020, Brazilian football stopped for 93 days, and the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) fears that another interrupted season could be financially harmful to clubs. However, more harmful still is the coronavirus’ effect on human lives. 

On March 3, 59-year-old coach Ruy Scarpino died of Covid-19, sparking protests among fellow managers and players.

On Sunday, Grêmio and Palmeiras face in the Copa do Brasil final, the last game of the 2020 season, which could push new federations to decide whether to stop football again.

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