Three Brazilian states have been forced to stall their local professional football matches due to an upsurge in COVID infections.
The governments in the three states— Ceara, Parana, and Santa Catarina—have ordered their respective leagues to be stopped immediately, while the Amazonian state of Acre postponed the start of its flagship tournament.
The announcements came close on the heels of federal prosecutors that prepared a letter recommending that the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) order the suspension of all 27 state competitions.
“If there is no compliance with the recommendation, measures will be taken in all states,” said the head of the public ministry’s football safety unit, Valberto Lira.
“We are experiencing a situation that worries everyone and the movement of teams from one state to another will bring more possibilities of contagion”, he added.
However, there is no official comment from the CBF, nor did the leading state federations of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro have issued any statement, both of which have a full schedule of matches planned for this weekend.
On the other hand, Santos, one of Brazil’s biggest clubs in which legend Pele spent most of his career, called for all football in the country to be suspended immediately.
“With pain in my heart, the situation is scaring us a lot, we are losing sensitivity. We are talking about lives that have no sense of being lost. Any measure to save a life is worth it,” Santos president Andres Rueda told the media.
“The [health] protocols are coherent, but even so, it [the virus] is out of control. Football has to play its part. As much as it hurts, we need to stop.”
Brazil has been one of the worst hit countries and regions by COVID-19 with more than 10 million confirmed cases and over 261,000 deaths.
The health ministry reported 1,910 coronavirus fatalities on Wednesday, the highest single-day death toll since the pandemic began.