While the beautiful game usually takes center stage in Brazil, a natural disaster has forced football to take a backseat.

Heavy rains have caused severe flooding in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, impacting millions of people and leaving a trail of devastation. In response to this crisis, the Brazilian soccer federation (CBF) has suspended matches for three top-tier clubs in the region: Gremio, Internacional, and Juventude.

These clubs, all based in Rio Grande do Sul, will be sidelined for 20 days while the situation improves. This suspension applies to both home and away matches, affecting a total of 10 games across the Brazilian league and the Brazilian Cup. The CBF has also pledged its full support to relief efforts, prioritizing the well-being of those affected by the floods.

The seriousness of the situation becomes clear when considering the damaged state of these clubs’ infrastructure. Both Internacional and Gremio’s stadiums in Porto Alegre, the state capital, have been inundated with water, leaving their pitches unplayable. Juventude’s stadium in Caxias do Sul faces a similar threat in the coming days.

The logistical challenges are immense. Even if the stadiums could be cleared quickly, the widespread flooding has rendered travel for away teams nearly impossible. Porto Alegre’s airport is submerged, along with many roads and hotels.

In a heartwarming display of solidarity, other Brazilian clubs have offered their facilities to Rio Grande do Sul teams for training until the suspension is lifted.

The human cost of this tragedy is significant. Authorities report at least 95 deaths and over 130 people missing in the region. Over a million people have been impacted by the flooding, with approximately 200,000 displaced and forced to seek shelter. Meteorologists predict continued heavy rain through the end of the week, raising concerns for further damage.

The suspension of professional football across all divisions in Rio Grande do Sul, including women’s leagues and youth tournaments, underscores the severity of this natural disaster. While the beautiful game may be on hold, the focus remains on supporting those in need during this difficult time.

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