When COVID-19 spread worldwide in 2020, it left most countries with devastation. Shortly after the world’s attention turned to Italy, Brazil found itself facing a similar fate. Brazil initially underestimated the virus’s severity, and as a result, Brazil is struggling to overcome the outbreak, currently ranking third in the world for the highest number of COVID-19 cases. For a developing country such as Brazil, the impacts of COVID-19 are particularly harsh. Brazilian soccer players are coming together to support the fight against COVID-19 in Brazil.
Brazil as an Epicenter of COVID-19
As of May 30, 2021, Brazil reported more than 16 million COVID-19 cases and more than 462,000 deaths. Brazil has the highest number of COVID-19 deaths in Latin America. Brazil reported a surge of deaths in April 2021 with a peak of more than 4,000 daily deaths. Despite these high numbers, President Bolsonaro has made several statements underestimating the severity of the pandemic, stating that it is merely a case of minor flu. Furthermore, he refused to impose lockdowns or curfews to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Bolsonaro also disregarded opportunities to secure millions of vaccines for Brazil. Bolsonaro’s loose measures for containing the virus have been universally condemned.
Brazil Urges the World for Help
After the devastating impacts of COVID-19, Brazilian state governors begged the United Nations for urgent help. The call for help asks for assistance through “vaccines, hospital supplies and even manpower.” Before Brazil became the epicenter of the virus, the Trump administration helped Brazil with $20 million in pandemic assistance. The U.S. provided $75 million in aid for the private sector and 1,000 ventilators.
President Trump even sent along millions of hydroxychloroquine pills. According to a spokesperson for the European Union, the EU provided $28 million worth of grants to Brazil since the beginning of COVID-19. Germany also shipped ventilators to the country. Additionally, the World Health Organization shipped COVID-19 vaccines to Brazil to ensure vaccine equity.
Brazilian Soccer Players Fighting COVID-19
After seeing their country’s desperate situation, Brazilian soccer players are coming together to support the fight against COVID-19. In April 2020, footballers such as Neymar and Alisson as well coaches and the country’s football federation (CBF) came together to donate approximately $1 million to vulnerable families struggling economically during the pandemic.
In a statement on the CBF website, Neymar says, “In difficult times like these, lots of families need help, our help.” A group of 57 soccer players and staff members as well as former FC Barcelona player, Dani Alves, collectively donated $463,787. The donation went to three organizations supporting the most impoverished and crowded cities in Brazil, enough to provide two months’ worth of hygiene products and nutrition to 32,000 households.
The Brazilian football manager, commonly known as “Tite,” urged fans and other athletes to support the effort. Prior individual fundraising efforts from Zico and Paulo Roberto Falcao successfully accumulated millions in donations.
In April 2021, Club Athletico Paranaense joined others in helping Brazil fight COVID-19. The Athletico club expressed its willingness to “buy COVID-19 vaccines and make them available to fans with paid-up memberships, as well as players and officials, free of charge.”
This idea comes after the Brazilian congress allowed private sectors to purchase the vaccine. Although the club did not mention how many members it holds, estimates predict numbers of 20,000-30,000 prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. In a statement, the Athletico club also called on other soccer clubs to help Brazil in its battle against COVID-19.
Bolsonaro’s failure to adequately protect the country’s citizens from the impacts of the virus means Brazil now takes the title for the Latin American country with the highest number of pandemic-induced deaths. In order to assist a country in desperation, Brazilian soccer players are coming together to support the fight against COVID-19 in Brazil, standing in solidarity with the Brazilian people.
– Zineb Williams