Football resumed in Rio on Thursday evening after a three-month coronavirus hiatus in an empty Maracana stadium just metres away from a 400-bed field hospital for COVID-19 patients. Flamengo beat Bangu 3-0.
The Rio state league restarts despite coronavirus cases in Brazil still being on the rise. Two people died in the Maracana field hospital on Thursday from COVID-related illness, according to local reports, and 274 in Rio altogether. Brazil nears one million COVID-19 cases, according to the country’s Health Ministry.
Two top clubs in Rio, Botafogo and Fluminense, don’t agree with the resumption of the league and say they will not participate in the scheduled matches this weekend.
A Flamengo fan next to the gate where the team bus arrived, said he agreed with the decision to resume football, stating that “if everything is reopening, the mall is opening, the supermarket is opening, everyone is wearing a mask properly, taking care of themselves, so football can also open up, especially because people here, we just cannot be without Flamengo, we will get even sicker without Flamengo.»
Ana Caroline Terra, a health professional at Maracana's COVID-19 field hospital, and a Flamengo fan, said she was not so sure. «I think it's a good thing, it's something that brings people together but it's not the ideal moment,» Terra said.
Flamengo’s victory was watched by fewer than 200 people inside Brazil's iconic 78,000-seat stadium