Fla­mengo fire leaves Brazil fac­ing burn­ing ques­tions

Hindustan Times (Amritsar) - - Sport - Reuters sports­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com ■

SAO PAULO: The deaths of 10 teenagers in a fire at Brazil’s Fla­mengo high­lighted the pre­car­i­ous con­di­tions many young­sters face as they chase the dream of be­com­ing pro­fes­sional foot­ballers. The boys, all aged be­tween 14 and 16, were killed when a fire swept through the Fla­mengo train­ing cen­tre on the out­skirts of Rio de Janeiro early on Fri­day morn­ing. Three oth­ers were in­jured, one se­ri­ously.

Although Brazil­ian clubs are fa­mous for pro­duc­ing some of the world’s great­est play­ers, they have been crit­i­cised for the lack of care and se­cu­rity they pro­vide their young charges. Au­thor­i­ties have cited clubs in re­cent years for poor hy­giene, inadequate nu­tri­tion and a lack of ed­u­ca­tion and so­cial care for youth play­ers.

In re­cent years teenagers such as Vini­cius Jr., who last year joined Real Madrid for $52.1 mil­lion, and Lu­cas Pa­queta, who last month made his de­but for AC Mi­lan, had spells at the same train­ing cen­tre. But the area de­stroyed by the blaze was not sup­posed to house play­ers, the Rio de Janeiro mayor’s of­fice said on Fri­day. The area where the lodg­ings were built was reg­is­tered as a car park and the city served Fla­mengo about 30 no­tices warn­ing them they did not have proper per­mis­sion and or­dered them to close the dor­mi­tory in Oc­to­ber, 2017. “The mayor’s of­fice is sad­dened that its no­ti­fi­ca­tions were not ob­served,” said Rio Mayor Marcelo Criv­ella.

Many of Brazil’s top clubs have spent money mod­ernising their in­fras­truc­tures and Cruzeiro, Atletico Mineiro and Ath­letico Paranaense have grounds and ac­com­mo­da­tion that ri­val those of the top teams in Europe. Fla­mengo too spent $6.17 mil­lion on ex­pand­ing the Ninho do Urubu, and the part of the cen­tre burnt was due to be closed down.

Fla­mengo CEO Reinaldo Belotti said the fire was caused by en­ergy spikes that ig­nited an air con­di­tion­ing unit. “This was an ac­ci­dent but it has been a long time com­ing.”


■ Rel­a­tives of Vini­cius de Bar­ros Silva Fre­itas, one of the Fla­mengo trainees, at­tend his burial, in Volta Re­donda, Brazil.

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