1. ITV Report

Brazilian football club Flamengo criticised after fire kills 10 teenagers

Friends embrace outside a church after attending a memorial Mass for the victims of a fire at a Brazilian soccer academy Photo: AP

Brazilian football club Flamengo has come under mounting criticism for licensing issues at its training ground, a day after a fire ripped through a dormitory and left 10 teenagers dead.

Three teenagers are still in hospital after the blaze, including one who is in a serious condition.

Rio de Janeiro’s city hall said the club was fined 30 times because of infractions at its Ninho do Urubu training ground, which had to be closed in October 2017.

Fans hold hands as they pray at the Flamengo club training complex in Rio de Janeiro Credit: Leo Correa/AP

The current permit issued for the ground is valid until March 8.

Rio’s city hall also said the sleeping quarters where Flamengo’s teenage players died was irregularly licensed as a car park.

It said: “The lodging area hit by the fire is not included in the last project approved by our licensing.

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“There are no registers of new licensing requests for that area as a sleeping quarter.”

The administration of Mayor Marcelo Crivella said it would open an investigation.

The incident came just two weeks after a dam collapse unleashed a flood of mining waste in Minas Gerais state that killed at least 134 people and left hundreds of others missing, stirring a wave of controversy over shoddy infrastructure and lax oversight in Latin America’s largest nation.

“Flamengo has always been a negligent club with its grassroots divisions. The structure for their young people is ridiculous and very risky compared to that of their professionals,” said a former Flamengo player who spent 10 years with the club.

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“All of the young people in my generation see ourselves reflected in this tragedy,” he added, noting that some young players weren’t well-nourished at the club either.

“If law officials investigate, more irregularities will come to light. It’s a situation that not only occurs in Flamengo but in all Brazilian football.”

Professional players of the Rio-based club arrived at Ninho do Urubu on Saturday dressed in black for a training session, and a weekend Rio de Janeiro state championship match against arch-rival Fluminense was cancelled.

The cause of the fire was unknown, but authorities are looking at a possible short circuit in the room’s air conditioning system.

Two young women, wearing Flamengo kits, embrace as they attend a memorial mass for the victims of the fire Credit: Leo Correa/AP

The club said player Jhonata Ventura is still in a serious condition, while Cauan Emanuel and Francisco Dyogo are listed in a stable condition.

A club spokesman told journalists that DNA tests will be required to identify the remains of five victims, a process which could take months.

Police said they have already heard testimonies from 13 surviving players and three Flamengo employees.

The club did not immediately offer an explanation for the incident, but board executives are expected to testify next week.

Flamengo’s president described the fire as “the worst tragedy to happen to the club in its 123 years”.

Like many professional clubs, Flamengo has a development scheme for promising young players. Many, particularly those who live outside of Rio de Janeiro, stay at the facilities while training.

Not long ago, Brazilian-born football stars Vinicius Jr and Lucas Paqueta were living at the same training ground. Vinicius Jr now plays for Real Madrid and Paqueta plays for AC Milan.