Brazil’s football confederation changed its COVID-19 testing protocol after a number of weekend matches had to be postponed because dozens of players contracted the coronavirus.
The football body said in a statement late Monday that it will begin testing all squad members 72 hours before matches, including those that are not on the bench. The previous protocol only tested those who were eligible to play.
The decision comes after several incidents in the past week, including Sunday’s postponement of a first-division match because nine players of Goiŕs learned they had the virus shortly before their game against Sao Paulo.
Earlier that day a third-division match was put off because 12 players of Imperatriz tested positive for COVID-19 shortly before their match against Treze.
A second-division match between Chapecoense and CSA scheduled for Wednesday was also postponed because 18 players of CSA have the virus.
The high COVID-19 contagion in Brazilian professional soccer raises fresh doubts about whether the country’s top four divisions can continue. They only started on Saturday after a three-month delay due to the pandemic. More than 100,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the South American nation.
Teams in Brazil’s third and fourth divisions also said delays in getting test results put infected players and staff members in contact with their teammates and others during long bus and airplane trips.
To address that, Brazil’s soccer body decided clubs have to provide test results 24 hours before every match and 12 hours before the visiting team travels.