Brazilian clubs vote against plan for fans' return

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Brazil’s first division clubs voted unanimously against allowing fans to return to soccer stadiums on Saturday, rejecting an earlier Health Ministry decision to permit grounds across the country to admit up to 30% of their capacity.

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) said it agreed with the veto, although it is in favor of a gradual return once all health and safety measures are in place.

The CBF and clubs will meet again in two weeks to debate the issue once more, it said in a statement.

All bar one of the 20 teams supported the ban, with Flamengo the only club not sending a representative to Saturday’s meeting.

The decision comes four days after Brazil’s Health Ministry gave the green light to fans returning.

Under its proposals, a crowd of around 25,000 would be permitted in Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana stadium.

The plan was widely criticized in Brazil, one of the nation’s worst hit by the new coronavirus pandemic.

More than 140,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the South American country, the second highest death toll in the world after the United States.

Reporting by Andrew Downie; Editing by Daniel Wallis