Rio de Janeiro, Jun 28.- Botafogo, one of the most traditional clubs in Brazil, returned to the field this Sunday after 105 days of inactivity for a game for the Carioca Championship in which they protested so much about the restart of soccer in Rio de Janeiro in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic as against racism.
But the game in which Botafogo thrashed Cabofriense 6-2 for the Carioca Championship showed more protests than football.
The Botafogo players, with the Japanese idol Honda as captain, made it clear that they do not support the resumption of soccer at a time when both Brazil and Rio de Janeiro record an increasing number of deaths from coronavirus.
The championship that faces the main clubs in the state of Rio de Janeiro, resumed ten days ago, was the first in all of South America to be restarted after three months of paralysis due to the social distancing measures imposed to stop the pandemic.
Botafogo and Fluminense criticized the restart of the championship with the pandemic still out of control in Rio de Janeiro, but their resources were rejected by the Sports Justice, so they had no choice but to return to the field.
Wearing a totally black mourning uniform designed especially for the occasion, the Botafogo honored the doctors and nurses who put their lives at risk to care for patients with COVID-19.
“Thank you professionals who are on the front line against COVID-19,” according to a message stamped on the Botafogo uniform, in which Brazilian idols such as Garrincha, Nilton Santos, Zagallo, Jairzinho and Didí have militated.
In a message that he published on his social networks before the game, the Botafogo leadership made clear his position against the retake of soccer and clarified that, despite fighting to the limit against the decision, he had no other option but to “respect the sports justice “.
As if that were not enough, the Botafogo players carried a huge sign to the center of the field that read the message “Good protocol is the one that respects lives.”
It was a reference to the health security protocol that has to be followed in the matches of the Carioca Championship to avoid the spread of the coronavirus and with which the mayor of Rio de Janeiro justifies his decision to allow the return of football to stadiums initially without an audience.
Despite the fact that it has not yet had the same repercussion, the City Council published last Friday a decree allowing the presence of the public in stadiums from next July 10, something unprecedented since not even the European countries, which restarted before their championships have authorized the opening of the stadiums.
But the Rio de Janeiro team also took advantage of the uniform to join the global protests against racism with another stamped message: “Black lives matter.”
And his protest did not stop at that. Just one minute into the game, all Botafogo players knelt on the pitch to imitate a gesture that has become a symbol of global anti-racist protests against the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police on May 25. spent in Minneapolis.
The Cabofriense players, in solidarity, stopped the ball and waited for the Botafogo players to rise to continue the match.
Two weeks ago, Rio de Janeiro began a gradual process of de-escalation of the social distancing measures that it had imposed to face the coronavirus despite the fact that the numbers of deaths and confirmed cases continue to grow and it is still unknown when the peak of the curve will be reached. infections
According to the bulletin released this Saturday by the regional health secretariat, 202 new deaths and 306 new cases of the disease were registered in the state of Rio de Janeiro in the last 24 hours. In total, the state of Rio de Janeiro accumulates 9,789 victims and 108,803 infections.
Such figures confirm the state as the second most affected by the pandemic in Brazil, which is one of the new world epicenters of the coronavirus.
After four months from the first case, Brazil accumulated until this Saturday 57,070 deaths and 1,313,667 cases from the pandemic, which confirm it as the second country with the most victims and contagions of coronavirus in the world after the United States.