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Gremio manager on coronavirus...
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Gremio manager on coronavirus protest: "Life must take precedence"

Thom Malone
Thom Malone

09:35 16 Mar 2020

Gremio players took to the pitch wearing facemasks in protest at their game against Sao Luiz going ahead amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The players, led by manager Renato Portaluppi, walked out of the tunnel to play Sao Luiz and lined up before the game wearing white masks over their faces.

"This protest by the players makes implicit our support for the championship to be halted - life must take precedence," said Paulo Luz, Gremio's director of football.

The Gaucho state Championship game was progressing behind closed doors.

Strike

Gremio manager Portaluppi warned authorities Gremio were willing to strike unless they call a halt to the footballing programme.

"It is time for Gremio to take a stand and that was to wear masks to alert authorities that players are people too," he said. "We are not immune to viruses.

"There's no point in closing the doors to fans. So the fans are protected and screw those who work in football.

"The whole world has stopped, shouldn't Brazilian football stop as well? That's our message and I hope they listen. We hope that good sense will prevail."

After the game. Portaluppi said: "The whole world has stopped - shouldn't Brazilian football stop as well? That's our message and I hope they listen. We hope that good sense will prevail."

Protest

The protest comes as players and clubs across South America are starting to complain at decisions by footballing authorities to order games to be played.

In Argentina River Plate refused to play their Superliga cup tie against Atletico Tucuman on Saturday. The Buenos Aires club closed their stadium, leaving match officials and the opposing team left outside.

The COVID-19 outbreak has spet Brazil with the controversial President Jair Bolsonaro forced to announce that he has tested negative for the coronavirus, contradicting earlier reports — including from his son — that he’d tested positive.

Posts on his official social media accounts said that “The Armed Forces Hospital and (diagnostic laboratory) Sabin have returned a negative test result for COVID-19,” the official name of the disease. Bolsonaro included a photo of himself flexing.

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