October 31, 2020

‘Out with Bolsonaro’: Anger and joy as football returns to Brazil

Issued on: 19/06/2020 – 16:48Modified: 19/06/2020 – 16:50

Professional football resumed in Brazil on Thursday, June 18, after a three-month hiatus amid the coronavirus pandemic with Flamengo beating Bangu 3-0 in an empty Maracana stadium. However, the country continues to record hundreds of deaths from the virus a day and not all fans were happy to see the return of the national sport.

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Outside the Maracana, which until recently was the site of an emergency field hospital for Covid-19 victims, a number of fans gathered ahead of the match to protest against football’s return and the policies of right-wing president Jair Bolsonaro who they accuse of prioritising the economy over lives.

“Today, our movement criticises the reopening of the championship as one that is a fascist irresponsibility of the government, which is not committed to the people, to helping people, which is only concerned about the economy. Exchanging lives for the economy,” Flamengo fan Paulo Cesar Alevato told Reuters.

“The people are against the reopening of the Rio championship and are in favour of getting rid of Bolsonaro.”

Bolsonaro has been criticised for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen Brazil record a death toll of more than 47,000 including another 1,238 deaths reported on Thursday. The return of football with the virus still raging has sparked controversy among both players and the public.

Two top Brazilian teams, Botafogo and Fluminense, have said they will refuse to play their matches this weekend.

Nevertheless, some fans were just happy to see their team back in action.

“3-0. Two goals from Gabigol and one from Bruno Henrique to kick-off the festivities, to start off the fun,” one Flamnego fan told Reuters following the side’s victory.

“This is Flamengo, here I’ve got Flamengo (tattooed) on my skin. It’s just the Libertadores Cup that is missing.”