Brazilian officials close football facility in which 10 died in blaze

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Rio de Janeiro, Feb 28 (IANS) The Rio de Janeiro city government ordered the closing of the dormitory at the practice facility belonging to Flamengo, the most popular football club in Brazil, in which 10 teenagers died in a fire earlier this month.

Prosecutors went to the training complex, known as the Ninho do Urubu (Vulture’s Nest), and told Flamengo management that the dormitory would be closed, the doors sealed and warning notices posted, reports Efe news.

City officials said guards would also be posted outside the practice facility, located in the western section of Rio, to prevent Flamengo management from reopening the building without authorisation from officials, as happened in October 2017.

The football club was notified several times by the city that the complex lacked operating permits, including a certificate of inspection from the fire department, but the team ignored the warning letters.

Flamengo was slapped with 31 citations for irregularities, but the club only paid 10 of the citations.

The club, according to city officials, broke the law by keeping the facility open after being ordered to shutter it in October 2017 after constructing a dormitory for athletes from its lower-division teams.

Flamengo did not obtain a building permit or inform the city that it was constructing the dorm, officials said.

A fire broke out on February 8 in the dormitory, an irregular structure constructed using containers, killing 10 young players, including three who were considered among Brazil’s most promising prospects.

The blaze was apparently caused by a faulty air conditioning unit in one of the rooms of the dormitory, which did not have fire alarms.

The make-shift dormitory was built in an area that was supposed to be used for parking, city officials said.

Flamengo executives denied that irregularities were to blame for the fire and vowed to obtain all the necessary permits to operate the facility.

The club said it was working on obtaining a permit from the fire department, claiming that was the only one of nine required permits that it had not secured.

On February 13, authorities prohibited minors from entering the Ninho do Urubu until the club obtained all permits required by local laws, but the team continued using the facility for practices by its First Division squad.

Flamengo management began negotiating an agreement last week, with prosecutors acting as mediators, covering the damages due to the families of the victims, contending the initial requests were excessive.

Flamengo is one of the Brazilian clubs never to have been relegated from the First Division.

–IANS

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