La Vinotinto have been forced to scramble to field a full team as positive coronavirus tests continue to mount just a day before the tournament starts
Venezuela’s travelling party for the Copa America has had at least 11 positive Covid-19 test results as of Saturday afternoon, forcing them to call upon emergency replacements in order to compete on Sunday against Brazil.
They are flying players in from their domestic league, the Venezuelan Primera Division, to face the Selecao for their tournament opener.
The coronavirus has been a central issue to the Copa America, which was moved from Argentina to Brazil a couple of weeks ago because of rising cases. Brazil players have expressed discomfort at hosting the competition with Covid not under complete control in their nation either, but they ultimately decided against taking formal action against CONMEBOL’s decision.
What has been said?
“An emergency group of replacement players has been called up, and they’re ready to join the camp in Brazil,” wrote the Venezuelan football federation.
“The board of directors of the Venezuelan soccer federation, headed by its president Jorge Gimenez, stands in solidarity with each of those affected and guarantees all the necessary measures for their speedy recovery.”
The statement indicated that eight players and three staff members had tested positive, though earlier in the day, CONMEBOL had announced 13 members of the group learned they were infected.
The positive tests just ahead of the tournament represent the greatest fears of organisers and participants being realised, with the health of players already in jeopardy.
On the field, Venezuela were already significant underdogs entering their clash with Brazil; now, it will likely be a matter of damage control to keep the scoreline respectable.