Gremio players protest, walk onto the field with face masks amid coronavirus crisis

Sport

Gremio players took the field on Sunday with face masks on as a sign of protest for having to play during the coronavirus pandemic.

No fans were allowed into Gremio Arena for Gremio’s Gaucho state championship match against Sao Luiz, but Renato Portaluppi’s men did wear white face masks as they walked through the tunnel and onto the field.

“This protest by the players makes implicit our support for the championship to be halted – life must take precedence,” Gremio’s director of football, Paulo Luz, said about the situation.

With goals a first-half goal from Pualo Miranda and second-half goals from Thiago Neves and Diego Souza, the hosts edges Sao Luiz 3-2. Gremio players did not wear the white masks during the game.

“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,” Gremio coach Portaluppi said following the game.

Gremio’s protest comes after various South American clubs are starting to complain about having to play, mostly behind closed doors. On Saturday, River Plate refused to play their Superliga cup bout against Atletico Tucuman, closing the doors to their stadium, leaving league officials and Atletico Tucuman outside without access.

On Thursday, South America’s soccer governing body, CONMEBOL, suspended 2020 Copa Libertadores games through March 21.