Football in São Paulo breeding ground for Covid-19, says study

football são paulo covid
São Paulo has suspended its regional championship. Photo: Ivan Storti/SFC

Researchers from the University of São Paulo showed that the coronavirus infection rate among professional football players in the state of São Paulo topped 11.7 percent throughout the 2020 season — levels equivalent to those seen in frontline health workers. 

The study analyzed almost 30,000 RT-PCR Covid-19 test samples on over 4,200 players from over eight different tournaments. According to medicine professor Bruno Gualano, the contamination level is higher than those observed in other countries, including Denmark, Germany, and Qatar. Also, asymptomatic cases may have turned players into coronavirus “vectors.”

São Paulo football fails to beat the virus

Following national and continental federations, São Paulo’s football governing body decided to go ahead with matches despite a state decree forbidding non-essential services for the second half of March. As a workaround, the local federation sent its clubs to play home matches in other states, thereby evading social restriction rules.

When questioned, football authorities assure that “all health protocols have been put into practice” — something the new study contests.