Soccer-Sao Paulo state championship set for July 22 restart

SAO PAULO, July 8 (Reuters) - The Sao Paulo state football championship, the biggest of Brazil’s regional competitions, is to restart on July 22 with matches taking place in stadiums with no fans present, state governor Joao Doria said on Wednesday.

Games will only be permitted in the state capital and surrounding areas where commerce has been allowed to come out of lockdown, Doria added.

The competition, one of several state leagues that traditionally take place in Brazil before the national leagues in the second half of the year, was suspended in mid-March with two rounds remaining in the league phase, plus four rounds of knockout and finals.

The Rio de Janeiro state league was the first state league to restart on June 18.

The national leagues are scheduled to resume on Aug. 9, a day after the final of the resumed Sao Paulo competition.

Sao Paulo, Brazil’s richest and most populous state, has recorded 16,788 deaths from COVID-19, with 341,365 confirmed cases.

Brazil has more coronavirus deaths than any other country outside the United States.

Reporting by Eduardo Simoes, writing by Andrew Downie Editing by Toby Davis