The president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, requested on Tuesday that the match with Brazil on Thursday in Quito, for the Qatar-2022 qualifier, be played with 50% capacity after the presence of the public was prohibited due to the pandemic.
Lasso “has requested the National Emergency Operations Committee (COE) to analyze again, under technical criteria, the possibility of holding the sporting event with 50% capacity,” the presidential communication secretariat said in a statement.
The COE, in charge of managing the pandemic, prohibited on Monday that the duel, for the fifteenth date of the South American qualifiers for this year’s World Cup, be held with fans in the face of a wave of covid-19 infections in the country in January.
Lasso made the request after the Ecuadorian Football Federation (FEF) called the ban “wrong” on Tuesday and asked the authorities to reconsider the denial.
The Secretary of Communication indicated that the COE “will evaluate this issue, taking into account the most up-to-date data on the epidemiological situation.”
The vast majority of the territory of Ecuador, which was declared on red alert on January 16, fell to yellow on Saturday due to a decrease in the level of infections.
For “the presence of the public to be allowed”, the FEF argued that it has complied with “excellent results” its biosecurity plan in the stadiums during qualifying matches in the midst of the pandemic.
In a letter addressed to the COE, he added that it would also “be left in a very bad predicament if Ecuador becomes the only country in the region to play without an audience.” The governing body of football had requested a capacity of 60%.
“It was a very hard impact for the players to find out that we were going to have to play without an audience,” said the coach of the Ecuadorian team, the Argentine Gustavo Alfaro, on Tuesday at a virtual press conference.
He added that “for us it was a blow” and that “we needed the people, obviously we need the contagion of the public, that transmission of permanent encouragement.”
Alfaro stated that “the truth is that I wanted to live this party, the players wanted to live this party. We needed to meet our audience, we wanted it.”
Ecuador reports more than 684,000 infected (3,864 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) and 34,338 deaths.
The FEF also claimed that the country has a high immunization rate. With 17.7 million inhabitants, it has applied the complete vaccine schedule to 82% of its population aged 5 and over.
The tricolor, which is third with 23 points, can secure its ticket in the duels against Brazil (35 and already qualified) and Peru (fifth with 17) on February 1 in Lima.