Flamengo’s faltering Copa Libertadores defence has taken another twist as authorities in Guayaquil first closed down the venue of Tuesday’s Group A clash with Barcelona of Ecuador before reversing their decision just hours before kick-off.
The reigning South American champions returned to Ecuador with the hope of redeeming themselves after suffering an historic 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Independiente del Valle last Thursday.
However, the side’s preparations have been seriously affected by an outbreak of coronavirus within the squad, with seven players and two staff members testing positive following their arrival in Guayaquil.
While the Flamengo hotel was subject on Tuesday to an emergency visit from city medical authorities, who administered further tests, the Guayaquil municipal authority moved to prohibit sporting activities at the Estadio Monumental, the game’s scheduled venue.
« Right now, the Monumental is closed, » Carlos Luis Salvador, Health and Hygiene director for the city, explained to reporters. « At least in that stadium there will be no game of football today between Barcelona and Flamengo. We have notified CONMEBOL. »
Personal de la brigada de Salud de la @alcaldiagye ingresa al hotel Hilton de Guayaquil, para realizarle las pruebas a los miembros de la plantilla del @Flamengo_es @DiarioExtraEc @Expresoec @Recordec pic.twitter.com/EC79iwsHvw
Hours later, however, the city government released a fresh statement denying that the stadium was unavailable.
« We can clarify that the Estadio Monumental has not been closed down by the City Emergency Operations Committee, » the Guayaquil municipality explained via Twitter.
« We are waiting for a decision from the [Ecuadorian] Ministry of Health to determine whether the game can go ahead or not today. »
Aclaramos que el Estadio Monumental no está inhabilitado por el COE Cantonal. Estamos a la espera del pronunciamiento de parte del Ministro de Salud para establecer si se da o no el partido de hoy.
Flamengo vice-president Marcos Braz, meanwhile, said that the club would take no official stance on the game until the governing body had confirmed postponement or cancellation.
« The game right now is suspended. Flamengo respect and comply with the decisions of local authorities, » he explained. « They said that the stadium is no longer fit to play host to a football match. We will wait for the official CONMEBOL statement before returning to Brazil.
« Flamengo have received all CONMEBOL protocols. Flamengo will remain calm, after receiving the official documentation we will see what we can do. We are going to do what it best for Guayaquil, Ecuador and Flamengo. »
In the meantime, four additional Flamengo players were due to fly in to the coastal city roughly two hours before kick-off to take the place of the squad members unable to take part due to their positives.
Flamengo currently sit second in Group A following Thursday’s clash, part of the first round of fixtures in the Libertadores since March after the coronavirus pandemic forced the competition to halt for almost six months.
Their manager, Domenec Torrent, is under pressure after a dreadful start to his tenure in charge which included the 5-0 defeat.
Independiente del Valle lead the group with nine points out of nine and can clinch qualification for the last 16 with two games to spare with at least a draw against Junior in Barranquilla on Tuesday.
Clube de Regatas do Flamengo, Copa Libertadores, Coronavirus, Barcelona S.C., Ecuador, Guayaquil
Actu monde – GB – Barcelona-Flamengo Libertadores clash likely to go ahead despite coronavirus outbreak