May 5, 2020 / 5:04 AM / a month ago

Brazilian footballers call on officials to put health first

(Reuters) - Brazilian footballers took a rare united stance on Monday when they produced a video calling on authorities to put health at the top of the agenda when deciding whether or not to return to action following the coronavirus pandemic.

The players also called for more dialogue around possible changes in the law they believe would put clubs’ rights over those of players.

“Brazilian people love football and want it back and we love it and want it back, too,” the players’ said in a statement.

“We are all for working but we have to think about all our health.”

The guarded position was made in a video that featured 15 players from 10 top clubs, including Flamengo, Corinthians and Santos, and was organised by the National Federation of Professional Athletes (FENAPAF).

It was significant because it was the first time Brazilian footballers have shown a united front on issues that concern them since an unofficial player-led union called Common Sense FC ceased activities in 2016.

Brazil shut down its leagues in mid-March and all football has been suspended since.

The country has recorded 107,780 cases of COVID-19, with 7,321 deaths, the most in South America.

The Sao Paulo football federation said on Monday it would resume its state championship only after the state government sanctioned games and the clubs also agreed they would not begin training until all clubs were ready to return together.

The Rio de Janeiro federation has already given clubs permission to start training again but most have yet to resume activity.

Reporting by Andrew Downie; editing by Richard Pullin

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