Flamengo fire leaves Brazil facing burning questions
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.