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News | 11.19.2021

South American Soccer Players Can Kiss Their Ball Smooches Goodbye

The South American soccer body just announced a complete list of rule changes to fight COVID-19.

South American soccer just got a whole new list of rules to combat the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As of now, players can no longer kiss their soccer balls for good luck, and they are currently prohibited from exchanging jerseys, spitting, or blowing their noses on the field. 

The governing body of soccer in South America has issued a list of regulations to protect players from the COVID-19 virus during the continent’s biggest club competition, the Copa Libertadores. There is no date for when the tournament will resume, but officials predict that it might not be until September. 

Photo by Reuters

On Wednesday, CONMEBOL approved the new rule changes in response to the pandemic, which also requires players and others involved to test for the virus before each match. To track results, CONMEBOL will create a medical registry. The rules also note that those who don’t comply with testing regulations will be prohibited from competing. Additionally, clubs that don’t comply will be fined.

Now, players cannot kiss the ball before, during, or after any match. We’re afraid that this might get to some players’ heads, especially superstitious players or those who have pre-game rituals. Each player’s body temperature will be taken prior to any match, and anyone seated on the bench and out-of-play must wear a mask.

Players must also avoid exchanging or giving away their shirts or any piece of attire to opposing players, teammates, or any individual. This means that the traditional exchange of pennants between team captains before each match is also prohibited. Coaching staff and plays must also use their own water bottle without sharing under any circumstances.

Photo by Reuters

Only those who wear masks will be able to participate in post-match interviews and news conferences, whether it be a player or coach. When the competition resumes in September, CONMEBOL said it would reduce fines for disciplinary breaches by 30%. After FIFA confirmed the change to five substitutions per game, President Alejandro Domínguez explained his frustration that he wasn’t consulted in the change, which was then announced by CONMEBOL.

Since the pandemic hindered the completion of the first round for World Cup qualifiers, it’s currently expected to occur sometime in September. During its meeting on Wednesday, the South American soccer body explained that it distributed an additional $14 million to the ten national associations to support them during the pandemic. The money donated should be enough to help roughly 400 clubs in South America.

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