Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro wants football to return, says players have ‘small chance of dying’ from COVID-19

WION Web Team
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Published: May 01, 2020, 04:27 PM(IST)

File photo of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Photograph:( AFP )

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Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro wants football competitions in the country resume services soon despite the high number of COVID-19 cases in the country. Bolsonaro argued that players have "small chance of dying" from coronavirus due to their top physical fitness.

Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro wants football competitions in the country resume services soon despite the high number of COVID-19 cases in the country. Bolsonaro argued that players have "small chance of dying" from coronavirus due to their top physical fitness. 

Bolsonaro, while likening the COVID-19 pandemic to “a little flu” has downplayed the risk brought by the coronavirus. Brazilian football leagues were suspended on March 15, whereas the Brazilian championship was scheduled to kick-start in the month of May. However, the commencement of the Brazilian championship looks unlikely given that the country has become a COVID-19 hotspot with more than 5,900 deaths. Medical experts and doctors are of the view that the pandemic is expected to peak.

Bolsonaro said that lots of people want football to return due to unemployment within the clubs. 

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“There is a lot of people in soccer that are favourable to a return because unemployment is knocking on clubs’ doors too,” Bolsonaro said in an interview with Radio Guaiba. “Footballers, if infected with the virus, have a small chance of dying. That’s because of their physical state because they are athletes.”

The Brazilian president further said that the new health minister will issue advisory for matches to return behind closed doors but admitted that players might be reluctant to take to the pitch. Bolsonaro said that the Brazilian government is ready to help in the resumption of live football in the country. 

“The decision to restart soccer is not mine, but we can help,” Bolsonaro said, adding he has spoken with Gremio coach Renato Portaluppi about the issue and was told that players are still worried about the virus.

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Brazil’s arch-rivals and neighbours, Argentina has already cancelled the remainder of 2019-20 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas France decided to conclude the season mid-way while declaring Paris Saint-Germain as winners of Ligue 1. The Dutch FA also cancelled the Eridiviese with no champions, promotion or relegation in place. 

Furthermore, Brazil’s football confederation on Tuesday, in a statement, said that competitions should return “whenever it is possible, with safety and health care assurances for all those involved”.

On Thursday, the Brazil football confederation had said Bolsonaro’s health ministry suggestions of the measures need to be taken before resumption.

Whereas, a director at Sao Paulo FC, 1994 World Cup winner, Rai said that his club is against the resumption of play amid COVID-19 pandemic while calling for Bolsonaro’s resignation due to his “irresponsible” management during the crisis. 

“We want to return in the proper time, in accord with recommendations, and gradually,” Raí told GloboEsporte.
 

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