Sao Paulo: The Sao Paulo state government announced that Brazil's opening 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Bolivia at Sao Paulo's Corinthians Arena next month will be played without fans
The decision came a day after the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) submitted a proposal before Brazil's health ministry to allow stadiums to operate at up to 30 per cent of their capacity.
"We respect the CBF and the leaders who seek to give value to sports but our obligation and our duty is to protect the lives of all people, including coaches, technical commission, players, fans and all those who attend a stadium in Sao Paulo," said Governor Joao Doria at a news conference, reports Xinhua news agency.
The South American World Cup qualifying tournament was due to begin on March 23 but was twice postponed because of the public health crisis.
Fans have been banned from entering stadiums in the South American country since mid-March, when all domestic football competitions begun a months-long hiatus.
Upon announcing on Tuesday that fans would be partially allowed back into stadiums, the health ministry said the final decision would rest with relevant state and municipal governments.
Brazil will face Bolivia in South America's largest metropolis on October 9 before playing another qualifier against Peru in Lima four days later.
(With inputs from IANS)