Chile to fine players who broke COVID-19 bubble

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Soccer Football - Copa America 2021 - Chile players prior to their game against Uruguay - Hotel Gran Odara, Goiana, Brazil - June 20, 2021 Chile team-bus in the concentration hotel REUTERS/Mariana Greif

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SANTIAGO, June 20 (Reuters) - A number of Chilean football players will be fined after inviting a hairdresser into their Copa America bubble, thereby breaking the strict protocols designed to limit the spread of COVID-19, the Chilean Football Federation (FFC) said on Sunday.

The FFC said no players or officials tested positive for COVID-19 after the incident but acknowledged the error and apologised in a short statement.

It did not name those involved, but Chilean press reports cited Inter Milan midfielder Arturo Vidal and captain Gary Medel as among the guilty parties.

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The news came at the end of the first week of a Copa America that has been beset by COVID-19-related incidents.

All told, four of the 10 teams – Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Venezuela - have seen players or officials self-isolating due to positive tests.

Brazil agreed to host the tournament less than two weeks before it was due to begin after Argentina withdrew due to a surge in COVID-19 cases there.

Brazil’s far-right president Jair Bolsonaro agreed to take over the responsibility despite the huge number of COVID-19 cases there as well.

On Saturday the overall death toll in South America’s biggest nation passed 500,000. More people have died from COVID-19 in Brazil than in any country bar the United States.

The tournament organisers said the 2021 Copa America would be "the safest sporting event in the world".

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Reporting by Javier Leira in Santiago; writing by Andrew Downie; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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