São Paulo

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Sao Paulo stadium turning into open-air hospital for coronavirus

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SAO PAULO — Pacaembu Stadium in downtown Sao Paulo is being turned into an open-air hospital to handle cases from the coronavirus outbreak.

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The 45,000-seat stadium is expected to house more than 200 beds for minor cases of COVID-19. It should be ready in 10 days.

The stadium is near several key hospitals in Brazil’s biggest metropolis, which is the local epicenter of the disease.

As of Monday afternoon, Brazil had more than 1,600 confirmed cases, and 25 deaths.

Almost all arenas used in the 2014 World Cup were also offered by clubs as open-air hospitals and health care units. Brazil has a public health care system, but federal and state officials believe it will be overwhelmed by the end of April.

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All professional soccer in Brazil is halted. Three matches in the Roraima state championship last weekend were stopped by the local sports body hours before they began in the northern region close to the border with Venezuela.

The Sao Paulo state championship, which used the Pacaembu, has been suspended for more than a week.

On Monday, two days after reconstruction began, wires and cables were all over the pitch, and the first metallic structures were up in the stadium inaugurated in 1940 and used in the 1950 World Cup.

Brazil indicts model over rape allegation against Neymar

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Sao Paulo police say they are indicting Brazilian model Najila Trindade and her former partner over her rape allegation against soccer star Neymar.

Police said Tuesday they indicted the model for procedural fraud, slanderous denunciation and extortion.

Her former partner Estivens Alves is accused of disclosing erotic content, which was then published online.

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Trindade went to Sao Paulo police to accuse Neymar of raping her at a Paris hotel in May. Neymar denied the accusation and said their relations were consensual.

Prosecutors officially closed the investigation against Neymar earlier this month, citing a lack of evidence against him.

The Associated Press doesn’t name alleged sexual assault victims unless they make their identities public, which Trindade did in several interviews.

Brazilian ref becomes second to stop game for homophobic chanting

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Brazilian referee Anderson Daronco became the second official this month to halt a game due to homophobic chanting by fans.

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Vasco da Gama were playing host to Sao Paulo in a Brazilian first-division fixture when Daronco stopped the game and asked Vasco manager Vanderlei Luxemburgo to ask the home fans to stop the chanting.

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The rule by which referees are now empowered to stop games due to homophobic abuse came down from FIFA this summer, though the new guideline was initially intended to act as a tool against racist abuse occurring inside stadiums.

Not even two weeks ago, French referee Mehdi Mokhtari stopped a Ligue 2 game between Nancy and Le Mans due to homophobic chanting. The stoppage lasted “about a minute” before the game eventually resumed. Mokhtari was applauded by French sports ministers of all levels for his handling of the situation.

Dani Alves returns to boyhood club Sao Paulo

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SAO PAULO (AP) Veteran Brazilian right back Dani Alves signed a free transfer deal to play for his boyhood team Sao Paulo FC.

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The club announced the move Thursday in a video with the 36-year-old former Barcelona, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain defender.

Brazilian media reports the deal is valid until the end of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“I could have chosen anywhere to play, but I chose to return to Brazil,” the right-back said. “It is unreal, but I am here.”

Alves’s contract with PSG expired in July. The Brazilian said then he would like to remain in European soccer.

The right-back was Brazil’s captain in the latest Copa America title winning campaign. He was also voted by organizers as the best player of the tournament.

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Sao Paulo is in fifth position in the Brazilian championship after 12 matches, eight points behind leaders Santos.

Alves has lifted astonishing 40 trophies in his professional career and is still very fit.

He played all 90 minutes in several matches of the latest Copa America. The defender recently said he considers moving to the midfield to extend his career.

Alves has not played since Brazil’s 3-1 win over Peru in the Copa America final on July 7 at the Maracana Stadium.

Sao Paulo said the defender should be introduced to fans next week.

Report: Big decision coming for Kaka

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One of Major League Soccer’s highest-profile Designated Players could be leaving the league this winter.

In an interview with Brazilian publication Globo Esporte, Orlando City SC star Kaka revealed he’s considering three options this winter: Extend his stay in Orlando, move to Sao Paulo FC, or retire.

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“(When I) finish a game you feel a lot of pain, the body begins to feel, so it’s not so much more pleasure,” Kaka said. “A kid plays today and tomorrow again. I’m 35, it takes longer to recover, it’s another rhythm. You feel the time is coming.”

Kaka has previously said that he would be open to signing a new contract with his current $6.6 million per year deal ending this December. He’s currently one of the highest paid players in MLS. Kaka’s scored six goals and added 4 assists in 22 games, but he’s missed time due to injury and Orlando City has already been eliminated from playoff contention for the third-straight season.

If he does retire, Kaka said he’d like to follow Zinedine Zidane’s example. Take a year off and then get into coaching.

“He paused, took a break, saw even if it was really what he loved, studied, took a course, started on the basis of category,” Kaka said. “I’m more on that side as well. Now, some people think you’re ready.”

Kaka’s signing marked another major notch on MLS’ belt in terms of bringing high-profile stars to the league, but he hasn’t been able to have the impact many in Orlando had hoped for. He’s accumulated 25 goals and 19 assists in 76 games in all competitions, but missing the playoffs three-straight years has been tough for fans to swallow, especially with the first-year success of Atlanta United this year as well as Seattle’s second-half turnaround to the title last year.

It would be fitting for Kaka to finish his career in Sao Paulo, where it all started. But it’s likely that if Kaka becomes a coach, we could see him again in the U.S. earning his way up as Patrick Vieira is doing now.