Brazilian football clubs make stadia available for COVID-19 fight

A host of Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A football clubs have united to offer up their stadia and training facilities for use in combating COVID-19, amid similar scenes across the world.

The list includes giants of the Brazilian game such as Corinthians, Santos and Sao Paulo. As of yesterday (Thursday), the largest nation in South America had confirmed 621 cases of the virus, with six deaths. The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) on Monday suspended national competitions under its watch for an indefinite period.

Corinthians said that “faithful to its tradition of solidarity and social responsibility”, the club will make all facilities available to authorities to assess how they can be used to fight the outbreak, including Arena Corinthians (pictured).

Santos said it would make made all its facilities available for use by the municipality’s Health Department, adding that the Salão de Mármore could be utilised as a temporary hospital. Sao Paulo made a similar statement, specifically referencing its Estádio do Morumbi.

In a sweeping strategy from Brazilian clubs, the likes of Athletico Paranaense, Bahia and Botafogo also made similar announcements.

In Portugal, Primeira Liga club FC Porto said it has contacted the director of the city’s Hospital de São João to make the Dragão Arena available as a field hospital and/or rest area for hospital staff. Starting from Monday, FC Porto will also provide meals for hospital staff. Earlier today, the confirmed number of COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 1,020, with six deaths.

FC Porto president Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa said: “To these heroes and their patients we will make our Dragão Arena available.”

In the US, Hillsborough County has announced that a large-scale, drive-through COVID-19 testing site will be established at Raymond James Stadium, home of NFL American football franchise the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The US has recorded more than 200 deaths and over 14,000 confirmed cases. The Raymond James Stadium site will be for people with a prescription for testing only. Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill said the advantage of such sites is that those who believe they have coronavirus won’t have to leave their vehicles and risk exposing other people.

“The other advantage of a drive-through is the healthcare workers who are collecting the samples don’t have to change their protective gear every time they see a patient because they’re driving through, and they’re just doing the tests one right after the other,” Merrill added, according to the Patch.com website.

In other news, Wembley Stadium has announced it will illuminate its iconic arch to show appreciation for the efforts of the NHS and front-line workers during the outbreak. The home of English football will continue to light its 133m high arch in blue for one hour every evening and display a ‘Thank You NHS’ message on the stadium’s exterior LED screens for the foreseeable future, as it pays tribute to the NHS and front-line workforces.

In the UK, the total number of COVID-19 deaths has today risen to 145, with 3,269 confirmed cases.

Image: Arena Corinthians