Paraguay will be looking to set an example for others when it restarts its football league on Friday following a four-month suspension due to the coronavirus.
It will be the first South American national league to do so and all eyes from the continent will be on Paraguay, one of the least affected countries regionally by the deadly virus.
“We have to be an example for others,” said veteran Olimpia forward Roque Santa Cruz, a former Manchester City and Bayern Munich player.
“This break has cost me a lot of rhythm. It’s had huge consequences for those of us training at a high level,” added the 38-year-old, who urged players to respect health protocols so that the league would not be suspended again.
Players are barred from spitting, clearing their noses, kissing the ball, hugging and swapping shirts.
However, it’s been a bumpy build up that has left the Paraguayan Football Association feeling nervous.
One player from 12 de Octubre has been isolated from his team for the rest of the season by the association after he was arrested by police following a traffic accident in which he was violating quarantine rules.
The association’s medical commission has also ordered all stadium boxes closed after becoming concerned at images of officials closely congregating inside one at the Sporting Luqueno stadium in Luque during a friendly match.
And the association is considering sanctions against the General Diaz club for playing a friendly using referees not accredited by the governing body.
Several players from different clubs were also sanctioned by public prosecutors for organizing foot-volley matches during the mandatory quarantine.
Football actually returned to South America last month with the start of the Rio state championship in Brazil, but this will be the first national league to restart.