Gremio players wear masks in protest at having to play amidst COVID-19 outbreak

Gremio players lining up before their Campeonato Gaucho match. (Source: Reuters)

Forced to play when the coronavirus outbreak is at large and claiming lives worldwide, players from Brazilian club Gremio took to the field wearing masks on Sunday in protest.

Even Gremio's manager Renato Portaluppi wore a mask as he led his players out of the tunnel to play a Campeonato Gaucho match against Sao Luiz. The players all lined up before the match wearing white masks over their faces.

"This protest by the players to take the field wearing masks makes implicit our support for the championship to be halted," Paulo Luz, Gremio's director of football, was quoted as saying to UOL. "Life must take precedence."

No spectators were allowed into the Gremio arena for the state championship match. The protest took place after the footballing authorities continued to order matches to be held behind closed doors.

All across Europe — from Premier League to La Liga to UEFA Champions League — every footballing league has been suspended due to the COVID-19 scare.

RED CARDS GALORE

In another incident involving Gremio, eight red cards were brandished in their Copa Libertadores group stage match against Internacional on Thursday. Although the match ended 0-0 at the final whistle, it will go down in history because of the heated brawl that took place among the players.

After Gremio pair Pepe and Luciano were sent off in the 88th minute for an incident that sparked the mass brawl, an added six were given their marching orders.

Edenilson, Moises, Victor Cuesta and Bruno Praxedes from Internacional saw red, as did Caio Henrique and Jonathan Doin from Gremio.

Members of the military police had to intervene to dissolve the tension between both sides.