Day af­ter fa­tal Fla­mengo fire, Brazil face burn­ing question

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Sport - Reuters sports­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

EX­POSED Clubs pro­duce greats but poor hy­giene, in­ad­e­quate nu­tri­tion and lack of ed­u­ca­tion dwarf achieve­ments

SAO PAULO: The deaths of 10 teenagers in a fire at Brazil’s Fla­mengo soc­cer club 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.

“At one club I was at we had to wait for the pros to eat and we got what was left and if there was noth­ing then it was tough luck,” Ro­mario Regi­naldo Alves, a 24-year old for­ward who spent time at the same Fla­mengo train­ing ground that burnt to the ground, told Reuters.

“The fa­cil­i­ties are not al­ways clean, the toi­lets are filthy,” he added of other clubs he was at. “We know that it’s not like be­ing at home but they can def­i­nitely do things bet­ter. The clubs and the directors that are re­spon­si­ble need to un­der­stand that giv­ing kids de­cent treat­ment isn’t spoil­ing them.”

The boys who died were youth play­ers stay­ing at a train­ing cen­tre called the Ninho do Urubu or Vul­ture’s Nest af­ter the club’s sym­bolic bird.

In re­cent years teenagers such as Vini­cius Jr., who last year joined Real Madrid for 46 mil­lion eu­ros ($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.

CAR PARK

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.

He did not say why the city did not close the fa­cil­ity af­ter the no­tices were ig­nored.

Many of Brazil’s top clubs have spent money mod­ernising their in­fra­struc­tures and Cruzeiro, Atletico Mineiro and Ath­letico Paranaense have train­ing­grounds and ac­com­mo­da­tion that ri­val those of the top teams in Europe.

Fla­mengo spent 23 mil­lion reais ($6.17 mil­lion) on ex­pand­ing and re­fur­bish­ing the Ninho do Urubu, and the part of the cen­tre de­stroyed by fire was due to be closed down.

But there is still much work to be done by the clubs and au­thor­i­ties.

The Rio mayor’s of­fice high­lighted prob­lems at the train­ing cen­tres run by two other Rio clubs, Vasco da Gama and Flu­mi­nense.

Vasco did not get per­mis­sion to erect build­ings and although Flu­mi­nense did re­ceive per­mis­sion, they do not have per­mits to al­low the build­ings to be oc­cu­pied.

In both cases, city of­fi­cials are “tak­ing the proper le­gal mea­sures”, the mayor’s of­fice said.

Nei­ther club re­sponded to tele­phone calls and emails.

Fla­mengo CEO Reinaldo Belotti said the fire was caused by en­ergy spikes that ig­nited an air con­di­tion­ing unit.

“When I was there it was much worse than it is now, we re­ally suf­fered,” Alves said. “This was an ac­ci­dent but it has been a long time com­ing.”

REUTERS

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

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