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Soccer-Chile to fine players who broke COVID-19 bubble

SANTIAGO (Reuters) – A number of Chilean football players will be fined after inviting a hairdresser into their Copa America bubble, thereby breaking the strict protocols designed to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Chilean Football Federation (FFC) said on Sunday.

The FFC said no players or officials tested positive for COVID-19 after the incident but acknowledged the error and apologised in a short statement.

It did not name those involved, but Chilean press reports cited Inter Milan midfielder Arturo Vidal and captain Gary Medel as among the guilty parties.

The news came at the end of the first week of a Copa America that has been beset by COVID-19-related incidents.

All told, four of the 10 teams – Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela – have seen players or officials self-isolating due to positive tests.

Brazil agreed to host the tournament less than two weeks before it was due to begin after Argentina withdrew due to a surge in COVID-19 cases there.

Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro agreed to take over the responsibility despite the huge number of COVID-19 cases there as well.

On Saturday the overall death toll in South America’s biggest nation passed 500,000. More people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil than in any country bar the United States.

The tournament organisers said the 2021 Copa America would be “the safest sporting event in the world”.

(Reporting by Javier Leira in Santiago; writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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