Brazil's football championship to kick off in August despite coronavirus pandemic's peak

The Associated Press

Sao Paulo: Brazilian football clubs have decided to start the country's main championship on 9 August, despite the concern of health experts who predict the coronavirus pandemic could be peaking in the country at that time.

The top-flight competition was initially scheduled to begin in May but was postponed because of the outbreak of COVID-19.

Brazil's football confederation issued a statement on Thursday saying the agreement on the dates and on health protocols came in a meeting with representatives of all 40 clubs of the two main divisions. The restart will depend on clearances from health authorities.

More than 55,000 have died from COVID-19 in Brazil and about 1.2 million people have been infected, second only to the United States. Confirmed cases are still rising.

The Brazilian football confederation said 19 of the 20 clubs in the top flight were open to playing in other cities if their hometowns are considered not safe enough by health authorities.

Football made a partial return last week in the country after a three-month suspension, but only local league games in the state of Rio de Janeiro, clubs in other state leagues are only contemplating a return next month.

Players and sports executives who think it is too risky to start playing are still protesting and appealing to local sports courts.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and powerful Rio club Flamengo have been lobbying for the return of soccer since May.

Also See: Football returns to Rio de Janeiro at the iconic Maracana Stadium, next to field hospital for COVID-19

LaLiga: Fans to be asked to wear face masks, avoid hugs and high-fives when they're eventually allowed in stands

Premier League: Norwich player among two more positive coronavirus tests as resumption date approaches

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