By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – It’s been an eventful week for one of Rio’s big four football (soccer) clubs, Club de Regatas Vasco da Gama, which began with the club being prohibited from playing at its home stadium, São Januário.
Also, if preliminary reports are true, the week could end with the club completing the richest player sale in its 101-year history with Douglas Luiz going to Manchester City.
The week got off to an auspicious start with the well-publicized death of Vasco fan, 27-year-old David Lopes Rocha, outside of São Januário Stadium. The incident occurred during the violent confrontation between fans and Military Police at Saturday’s (July 8th) game against arch-rivals, Flamengo.
As a result of the tragedy, on Monday, July 10th, Paulo César Salomão Filho, acting president of Brazil’s statute-based sports tribunal, the Superior Tribunal de Justiça Desportiva (STJD), issued an injunction preventing Vasco from playing further games at its home stadium.
Filho based his decision on the numerous security breaches at the stadium on Saturday, evidenced by explosive devices thrown onto the field, endangering players, staff, and other spectators; and the inability of security and police to secure restricted areas, such as the media broadcast booth, from marauding fans.
On Tuesday, July 11th, Vasco officials submitted a request to Filho and the STJD to overturn the ban, or at a minimum, allow the club to continue playing at the stadium behind closed doors (without fan attendance). At the time of writing, the STJD has not decided Vasco’s request.
Before the STJD’s injunction, the club’s next game at São Januário was to be the July 16th matchup against Santos. That game will now be held at Nilton Santos Stadium (Engenhão) behind closed doors.
As Vasco awaits a decision from the STJD about overturning the ban, many news outlets reported yesterday (July 12th) that the club has agreed to sell the rights to nineteen-year-old midfielder Douglas Luiz, known simply as Douglas, to Manchester City for approximately €13million (about US$45.5 million).
If the deal goes through, it would be the most expensive player transaction in Vasco’s history, eclipsing the club’s 2012 sale of Rômulo to Spartak Moscow for €8million.
Further confirming reports that the deal has been finalized, Douglas did not travel with the squad to Salvador, where they faced Vitória last night in the 13th Round of the Campeonato Brasileiro (Brasileirão) Série A.
In that match, Vasco defeated Vitória 4-1 and with nineteen points, is currently at the seventh position in the Brasileirão standings.