Brazil's soccer federation suspends matches for 3 southern clubs because of flooding

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil (AP) — Brazil's soccer federation has suspended matches involving three top-tier clubs of the country's flood-ridden southern region, but only for 20 days.

Gremio, Internacional and Juventude, which are based in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, will only return to activities after the harms of major flooding are mitigated, the Brazilian soccer body said in a statement Tuesday. Ten of their matches in the Brazilian league and the Brazilian Cup will be rescheduled.

The decision also applies to away matches of the three clubs.

Many fans and players had pushed for a complete halt to competitions in the South American nation.

The soccer body said it will reassess its move after May 27.

“(The Brazilian soccer confederation) stresses its unrestricted support so all measures and actions are adopted for the benefit of the population, which is the maximum priority,” it said.

Later, South American soccer confederation CONMEBOL said that it postponed one group-stage match of Gremio's in the Copa Libertadores and another of Internacional's in the Copa Sudamericana.

Authorities say at least 95 people have been killed over the last seven days in the region and another 131 are reported missing.

Both Internacional and Gremio had their stadiums inundated in state capital Porto Alegre, with their pitches now severely damaged by the water. The stadium of Juventude, based in the countryside city of Caxias do Sul, risks being flooded in the next few days.

Only jet skis have entered the Beira-Rio and the Arena do Gremio stadiums in Porto Alegre since last week.

Porto Alegre’s airport is also flooded, as are many of the city's hotels and roads, which would make it impossible for away teams to play even if the local stadiums were to be immediately cleared.

Other Brazilian clubs have expressed their support to the Rio Grande do Sul clubs and offered their facilities for training until the end of the month.

All three clubs had their weekend matches in the fifth round of the Brazilian league suspended.

Internacional is in ninth position with seven points, three behind leader Athletico Paranaense. Gremio is in 11th position with six points and Juventude has five competition points.

Damage from the rains have affected more than 1 million people in the region, according to authorities. Approximately 200,000 people are now displaced and taking refuge in schools, gymnasiums and other temporary shelters.

More heavy rains are expected until the end of the week, meteorologists say.

The suspension of professional soccer matches in Rio Grande do Sul state also applies to local clubs in Brazil's third and fourth divisions, its national women's soccer league and under-20 tournaments.


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