Argentine football is facing stricter controls to combat the second wave of Covid-19 affecting the country, though the top flight will not be suspended, a communiqué from the Argentine Football Association (AFA) said this week.
"In line with the government’s health policy, this Association urges the players, the clubs and their memberships and the entire football family to comply strictly with the approved health protocols," indicated AFA in its website.
Argentina is on the alert and applying new restrictions following an alarming increase of cases in recent days. More than 2.4 million people have been infected and around 57,000 have died over the last 13 months.
The number of cases of Covid-19 positive tests in the football world has also shot up in recent days. On Monday night Banfield had to raid its youth team to replace almost all the usual starting players who had tested positive or been placed in precautionary isolation for its 2-2 draw with Estudiantes in a Liga Profesional de Fútbol fixture.
On Tuesday Independiente coach Julio César Falcioni, 64, also tested positive for Covid-19.
"We have to try not to stop football down to the Fifth Division. We’re in a very difficult time. Everybody must contribute what they can towards the measures," said AFA director and Lanús club president Nicolás Russo in statements to the press as he stepped out of a meeting at AFA headquarters.
"In the next few days AFA will carry out inspections to corroborate exhaustive compliance with all the measures. In the event of non-compliance, a report will be raised to the Disciplinary Tribunal for the corresponding action," warned the football association.
The controls will be applied all the way down from the First to the Fifth Divisions of local football.
"These cases are occurring within football and society at large. We have to do our bit from the football world to help out," said Russo.
The executive affirmed that there will be additional measures for the training and transportation of teams, among others which have yet to be officially communicated by AFA.
The decision implies "setting the clock back to last August 10," the date when the return to match play was first organised, said Russo.
"We need to beware," underlined the Lanús president.
Speaking Thursday, as the government announced new restrictions for citizens across the country, Sports & Tourism Matías Lammens admitted that there had been a “relaxation” among players and clubs, though he said that football would not be stopping.
Lammens said that the government had demanded "that the protocols" defined last year be complied with and for AFA to ensure only essential personnel from each club side attend stadiums for games.