Brazil suspends league matches for 2 rounds due to floods

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil’s soccer confederation has suspended the next two rounds of its national league because of massive floods in the country’s south.

The move Wednesday came after a request for a halt from 15 of the 20 clubs in the top-flight division.

The Rio Grande do Sul state remains under water. Porto Alegre-based rivals Gremio and Internacional, and countryside club Juventude are all in the Brazilian first division.

Authorities say at least 149 people have died because of the floods and another 108 are missing. More than 620,000 people have been displaced.

If conditions allow in Brazil’s south, the league will resume in the ninth round on June 1. The seventh and eighth rounds will be rescheduled.

“We cannot forget that sport and society walk hand in hand, and cannot separate in such a difficult moment for the Brazilian people,” the country’s soccer body said in a statement. It added the suspension of matches of the top-flight division until May 27 does not apply to other competitions.

Brazil sports minister André Fufuca requested the same move on Friday, extending it to all nationwide tournaments, for men, women and under-20s. The Brazilian soccer body had already agreed to suspend for 20 days all soccer activity in the southern state, which borders Uruguay and Argentina.

South American soccer body CONMEBOL also suspended two club matches in the region.

While Internacional’s Beira-Rio is no longer flooded, the Arena do Gremio remains under water in state capital Porto Alegre. Juventude’s Alfredo Jaconi Stadium on the outskirts city of Caxias do Sul was less affected.

Airports in Porto Alegre and Caxias do Sul are closed, water supplies are still short, and hotels are full.

All three clubs from Rio Grande do Sul had their matches in the fifth round of the Brazilian league suspended, on the same weekend the floods began. Internacional are in 10th place, Gremio are 12th and Juventude 15th.