As the Americas become the latest epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic, countries in the region continue to show exactly what not to do. Brazil is at the forefront of that unfortunately, with local and federal governments implementing policies that seemingly forget that the virus is still circulating.
These contentions have inevitably reached football, the nation’s favourite pastime. The state with the second-worst number of cases and deaths due to COVID-19, Rio de Janeiro, allowed the local championship to return two weeks ago after major pressure from teams such as Flamengo, the current Brazilian League and Copa Libertadores champions. The city’s mayor has gone as far as signing a decree that will allow the return of supporters to stadiums at one-third capacity on July 10, something that countries which actually managed to temporarily curb the virus (which is not the case in Brazil) did not even do.
Only a few clubs were against the move, including two local powerhouses, Fluminense and Botafogo, the latter of whom have been trying to make landmark moves — at least by Brazilian standards — since the beginning of this year.
After bringing in former AC Milan attacking midfielder Keisuke Honda, but getting rolled over by Yaya Touré in nearly endless (and certainly fruitless) negotiations, Botafogo have locked their sights on another Champions League-winner. Former Chelsea winger Salomon Kalou is apparently close to signing, if former club president Carlos Augusto Montenegro is to be believed.
“He already has the pre-contract, but he asked for one more detail in the deal that [current vice-president] Ricardo Rotenburg sent him.
“I think it is all OK. And if no candidate to Vasco da Gama’s presidency appears at [Kalou’s] home, I believe he might come [to Botafogo].”
-Carlos Augusto Montenegro; Source: SporTV via Globo Esporte
The only trouble with the story is that Montenegro has reportedly lost a fair share of power within Botafogo since last year, after WhatsApp audios were leaked, in which he criticised the current club leadership. He is still part of the committee that helps with day-to-day decisions, which could include transfers such as Kalou’s however.
Kalou has been on an indefinite suspension by Hertha Berlin after filming himself not respecting social distancing rules, amongst other problems. The 34-year-old’s contract expires tomorrow; he’s made just 7 appearances all season.
Although I am no Botafogo fan, they did help me see Clarence Seedorf play in person back when I was in college, since the campus was only a few metres away from their head office/training ground. Therefore, I would certainly not be opposed if they allowed a few Chelsea fans like myself to witness Kalou a few more glorious footballing moments.