By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Power surges caused by the torrential rains and strong winds that swept across Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday (February 6th) was the likely cause of the fire at the Flamengo training center that took the lives of ten young footballers, according to Flamengo CEO Reinaldo Belotti.
“We had dropped poles that affected the power and electricity at the training center,” Belotti exclaimed to reporters on Saturday, February 9th. “Weather conditions and power surges may have affected the normal operation of air conditions.”
The deadly blaze took place early Friday morning at Ninho do Urubu, Flamengo’s training ground in the western region of Rio de Janeiro city. The fire killed ten Flamengo academy players all between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years old.
Speaking without taking any questions from the press, Belotti downplayed the absence of permits and licenses as causes of the fire and pushed back on claims from Rio City Hall that the players’ sleeping quarters, where the fire broke out, was originally registered as a parking lot.
“That has nothing to do with the accident that occurred,” Belotti exclaimed. “We have to take measures to legalize our training ground,” he addeed. “We needed nine certificates and we already had eight. We are working with the fire department.”
The Rubro-Negra executive did not address City Hall’s additional revelation that prior to the fire, the club had been fined 31 times because of infractions at the training ground, but he assured reporters that Flamengo’s management of the site was not the cause of the fire.
“This area was well known to everyone,” he said. “It was comfortable and adequate. We were proud of it.”
“The truth is that it was a tragic accident. It was not because of a lack of investment by Flamengo. It was not because Flamengo did not take care.”
The club returns to the pitch this Wednesday, February 13th, when it faces off against rivals Fluminense in the Taça Guanabara semi-finals at Maracanã.