Flamengo at odds with CBF, Série A rivals over fan attendance

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) has said it will appeal against a ruling from the Superior Court of Sports Justice (STJD) that Flamengo can sell tickets to home games in domestic competitions organised by the national governing body.

The ruling, following an appeal from Flamengo, has angered the Rio de Janeiro team’s fellow Campeonato Brasileiro Série A clubs, who have been operating under the belief that they would await a uniform stance on fan attendance taken by the CBF.

Brazilian clubs competing in tournaments organised by the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL), such as the Copa Libertadores or Copa Sudamericana, have been allowed fans in their stadia, but this has not been the same for domestic competitions.

Following the STJD ruling, Flamengo is not believed to be seeking to sell tickets for Sunday’s Série A fixture against Internacional. The City of Rio de Janeiro last week unveiled plans for fans to return to stadiums from September 2, dependent on the COVID-19 situation continuing to decline.

Rio is planning a three-step reopening, with the first phase on September 2 set to permit stadia to allow fully vaccinated fans to enter, up to 50% capacity. From October 17, full capacity sporting events are set to be allowed for those who have been fully vaccinated.

Rio authorities last week accepted a request from Flamengo to allow its fans into the Maracanã for the club’s Copa Libertadores quarter-final tie against Paraguay’s Club Olimpia on August 18, but only at 10% capacity.

Reacting to the news, Flamengo’s vice-president of finance, Rodrigo Dunshee de Abrantes, said on Twitter that such a move would be “financially unsustainable” due to the costs involved in opening up the stadium to the public.

Flamengo’s actions in taking to the STJD have been criticised by clubs in São Paulo, which have accused it of breaking the agreement to stay united on matters of fan attendance during COVID-19. In a joint statement, Corinthians, Palmeiras, Red Bull Bragantino, Santos and São Paulo, said: “It is public knowledge that the Serie A clubs, jointly, in a technical council meeting, decided that the return of the public in the stadiums would only happen after the agreement of their collegiate, and this decision must be respected.”

The CBF said: “CR Flamengo’s request and the decision rendered contradict the deliberation taken by the clubs at a meeting of the Technical Council of Série A, held on March 24, 2021, which, among other issues, prohibited the presence of the public in the stadiums until further consideration of the matter by the clubs. Such prohibition is the object of a technical directive that expressly integrates the specific regulation of the competition.

“The clubs also decided that a new assessment of the matter would only occur with the improvement of epidemiological indices in the host cities of the participating clubs and provided it was approved by the local health authorities, in an amount that would guarantee the maintenance of the technical balance of the competition.

“Since the 2020 season, the Special Medical Commission of the CBF has implemented and has been continuously improving its sanitary protocol to ensure the safety of everyone involved in football matches.

“From the improvement of the pandemic rates and the release of various activities in the municipalities, the aforementioned Commission developed a specific protocol for the return of the public to the stadiums, with a pilot project to be implemented from the quarterfinals of the Copa do Brasil, as widely publicised by the press, always ensuring and prioritising the protection of the population’s health. 

“Any match carried out with public attendance in disagreement with such planning inspires great concern.”

Image: Drmarcelodavid/CC BY-SA 4.0/Edited for size