Argentina and Brazil stated on Tuesday that they will utilize the next World Cup qualifiers as a test event for the return of football fans to stadiums following the Covid-19-imposed bans.
Argentina’s Tourism and Sports Minister Matias Lammens said that a test scheme for the visit of Bolivia to Buenos Aires on September 9 will take place at the 70 000-seat “Monumental stadium with 30% capacity,” as a first step toward the return of spectators at all large-scale events.
Meanwhile, the sports ministry of Sao Paulo announced in a statement that 12 000 fans will be allowed into the 48 000-seat Neo Quimica Arena in Sao Paulo for the crucial match against arch-rivals Argentina on September 5.
However, early in the day, news from the English Premier League might throw both plans into disarray.
The Premier League announced that its clubs will not release players for international matches in nations on the United Kingdom’s list of coronavirus pandemic hotspots.
Brazil could be missing Liverpool midfielder Fabinho, forward Roberto Firmino, and goalkeeper Alisson Becker, as well as Manchester United midfielder Fred and Chelsea centre-back Thiago Silva.
Argentina would be without Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, forward Emiliano Buendia, and Tottenham’s Cristian Romero and midfielder Giovani Lo Celso.
On Tuesday evening, La Liga announced that it would back teams that refuse to release players.
Despite the fact that Ecuador and Venezuela have yet to confirm their squads, 25 players from 13 different Spanish clubs have already been called up to compete in the South American qualifiers.
The English and Spanish moves have yet to affect top players such as Lionel Messi and Neymar of Paris Saint-Germain, but it will be interesting to see whether other European leagues follow suit.
In March 2020, fans were last allowed into stadiums in Argentina and Sao Paulo.
More than 110 000 Argentines have died as a result of Covid-19, which has infected over 5.1 million people in the 45-million-strong country.
It is one of Latin America’s most severely afflicted countries.
Over 27.3 million people have gotten at least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with 27% of the population fully protected.
“In terms of what it signifies, we believe the (Bolivia match) is an event that demands this unprecedented step. It will enable us to assess how the (health) protocols will be carried out “Lammens stated.
Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most severely afflicted city, has reported 36 700 deaths and more than 930 000 cases among its 12 million residents.
Only supporters having a negative (Covid-19) test taken within 48 hours of the event will be able to attend, according to a statement from Sao Paulo’s sports administration.
If the test event goes well, the state of Sao Paulo will allow full stadiums from November 1, which means 60 000 people might attend the Formula One Grand Prix at Interlagos on November 5-7.