Cerro Porteño organized an action called “El Partido de Todos” on April 27. 51,237 virtual tickets were sold and several t-shirt auctions were held to raise funds and collaborate with different organizations that assisted vulnerable sectors that were affected by the pandemic.
Olimpia made the “Osvaldo Domínguez Dibb” sports gym available to the Ministry of Health, which was readapted so that some 58 returnees from Argentina could carry out their mandatory quarantine in that building.
Guaraní launched his campaign “Tembi´u Legendario” (the first word in Guaraní means “food”), in which he set up a truck to take food to different parts of the country. Coach Gustavo Costas was at the head of the project and he himself was in charge of distributing, together with the entity’s staff and players, the rations in each Aboriginal action.
In the same vein, the APF also supported indigenous communities in the country with food and cleaning kits and offered the Ministry of Health the High Performance Center for Development, Promotion and Competitions of Women’s Soccer, Grassroots Soccer and Amateur Soccer, where they stayed repatriated Paraguayans to carry out their mandatory quarantine.
These are some examples of the soccer community, which rose to the height of the emergency that the country went through.
THE STEPS OF THE APF
On Wednesday May 6, less than two months after the government decreed the quarantine, the first virtual meeting of a medical nature was held. The medical representatives of the APF, National Sports Secretariat and the 12 clubs that are part of the highest division participated. There the first guidelines were drawn up to establish a sanitary protocol that would allow the return of the competition.
On Tuesday, May 12, the organization began its “Zero Phase”, which consisted of the inspection of the stadiums to verify that they were complying with the protocol established by the entity. For this, he formed a commission made up of the Planning and Inspection of Stadiums, Medical and Competitions departments.
That day the Defensores del Chaco, owned by the APF, and Arsenio Erico, from Nacional, were the first. Thursday 21 was the end of the process with the review of General Pablo Rojas, from Cerro Porteño. In this way, the review of the fourteen scenarios available for the dispute of the matches was completed.
The tour also served to collect data on the players (mobility, housing, food and economy) and the training of all the personnel of each of the institutions involved in the development of the health protocol.
In this way, and in line with the Ministry of Health, the APF announced that it was going to propose a protocol for the return of football. This happened on Monday, May 25, at the beginning of the so-called “Intelligent Quarantine”, where, in addition, the agency began with the review of the clubs’ training centers.
On Thursday, the 28th, President Robert Harrison presented the roadmap for the return, which ended up meeting government approval.
Within these steps, the APF established instructions for the readjustment of the spaces in the stadiums, such as changing rooms, substitute benches and entrances; The same happened with regard to the VAR, where the spaces were reconditioned and tests were carried out for its implementation in all stadiums. For this, a series of friendlies that were played between Friday, July 3 and Saturday, 11 was used.
This point was of vital importance, since the decision was to return with VAR yes or yes. Paraguay was the second country in South America to incorporate video assistance for referee rulings, which debuted in the final of the Paraguay Cup last year.
Another important point in the return process had to do with the tests. The players were examined every seven days. The shots were made in the footballers’ own vehicle in the stadiums or training fields of the clubs. The responsibility of the main protagonists, who promised to isolate their homes and cancel contacts, was also key to the success of the championship.
The costs of the tests were assumed by the APF. For example, only in the phase prior to the return, about 2,400 monthly samples were taken for players, coaching staff, refereeing team -including VAR- and entity staff.
Within the body’s resolutions, it was determined that a total of 200 people could enter the stadiums in each game: 93 in the so-called red zone (playing field, changing rooms and technical area), which involves those who were tested within the testing process. the APF (players, coaching staff, referees, doctors and APF officials, among others) and 107 of the yellow zone (bleachers and field interview area), personnel who had to complete a medical statement, comply with regulatory sanitary measures and undergo taking body temperature (leaders, press personnel; TV, radio and VAR technicians and security).
CREATIVITY IN THE MIDST OF THE CRISIS
But the pandemic also brought innovations. And an old axiom indicates that times of crisis are what give birth to new opportunities. This is how some clubs showed their ingenuity to stay connected with their fans, who could not attend the stadiums.
Before the restart, Olimpia took advantage of the anxiety of his followers to see his players in action again and organized his own broadcast of two friendly games against San Lorenzo.
El Expreso Decano has its own content agency, Olimpia Media, which gives it autonomy when it comes to taking these actions. So it was that, after approval of a health protocol by the authorities, she set up her cameras, her transmission equipment and organized what could be called her own channel. “on demand”.
The fans were able to subscribe through payment platforms and get their access that allowed them to follow both transmissions, with repetitions and narration included, by Zoom.
With this virtual meeting application, he also set up three screens on the VIP stall area “1979 World Champions” for a total length of 65 meters. From there, the day-to-day members were able to virtually follow the matches played by the fringed at the Manuel Ferreira stadium.
Cerro Porteño is another entity that adapted to these new times. The Barrio Obrero entity looked for the return so that its fans say present in the matches that the team played in the General Pablo Rojas stadium with the “Azulgrana Figure”, an image made in PVC 75 centimeters high and 43 wide that They were placed in the seats so that the supporters felt that they were following more closely the Cyclone campaign, which culminated in the conquest of the championship.
The graphic representations at the end of the year will be withdrawn by those who participate in the action with the signature of all the members of the champion team. An indelible memory.
In addition, up to date members were able to make an exchange so that their images were projected on the fences of the stadium, which since it was refurbished in August 2017 is the most modern and with the largest capacity in Paraguay.
CERRO PORTEÑO AND A HISTORICAL BRAND
When the tournament went into hiatus, the Barça team was in sixth position and seven points off the top. That is, they were not even in qualifying positions for CONMEBOL Libertadores.
But just 75 days after the restart, he managed to stay with the Apertura, achieving a unique record, since the team led by Francisco “Chiqui” Arce is the first to achieve 11 consecutive victories in a tournament since the current format is played. That number of games implies that he beat all the rivals consecutively. The series began exactly in the resumption match against Libertad and culminated against Nacional.
Cerro Porteño’s comeback was impressive: he ended up beating Gumarelo, who finished third, by six points. So he managed to get a 13-point advantage if we understand the 14 games after the suspension in March as a mini-tournament.
THE FUTURE, WITH PUBLIC RETURN CHANCES
The Clausura is just around the corner and it comes with news. One is the dispute format, since it will consist of a single round of 11 dates and later there will be a single-game league between the first eight classified. In addition, there will be relegations but not promotions since the Intermediate this year will not be played, like the rest of the promotion competitions and other tournaments such as the women’s.
Another novelty is the possible return of spectators to the stadiums. The APF, led by Harrison, will meet with the Minister of Health, Julio Mazzoleni, to study the situation of the pandemic in the country, but the idea is that of a gradual return. In principle, it would be about 10 percent of the capacity of each stadium and a greater presence of members of the press.
It would be one more step forward in a league that knew how to return before and already has a consecrated champion in 2020.