06.05.2021 22:11 h

Paraguay, Uruguay begin vaccinating footballers ahead of Copa America

Uruguay and Paraguay on Thursday became the first two countries to begin vaccinating footballers against Covid-19 ahead of the Copa America, which begins next month.

Alejandro Dominguez, the president of South American football's governing body CONMEBOL, took to Twitter to congratulate both countries on beginning their programs.

"We will have a safer Argentina-Colombia Copa America, always complying with health protocols," said Dominguez, who is based in Paraguay.

China's Sinovac pharmaceutical company has donated 50,000 vaccines to CONMEBOL.

The doses arrived last month in Uruguay's capital Montevideo, from where they were sent out to continent's 10 member football associations.

"The first countries to start vaccinating this Thursday were Paraguay and Uruguay, and then Chile and Ecuador will follow," a CONMEBOL source told AFP.

It's not just national team players being offered the vaccine but both men and women professionals playing for top flight teams.

"Three Colombian teams are also in Paraguay, they were offered the vaccine and accepted," added the source.

South American sides are involved in continental club competitions this week and three Colombian sides had their "home" games switched to Paraguay due to civil unrest in their homeland.

Uruguay started vaccinations in the Centenario national stadium -- the site of the first ever World Cup final in 1930 -- in Montevideo, in alphabetical order, meaning Boston River were the first club to receive theirs.

Paraguay also started immunizing first division sides, beginning with Sportivo Luqueno.

"We've started applying the CONMEBOL vaccine to players, referees, coaches and logistical staff," said the Paraguay Football Association on its social media accounts, before also claiming to be the "first country in the world to immunize the entire football environment."

The Copa America begins in Argentina on June 13 with the final in Colombia on July 10.