Brazilian striker Gabriel “Gabigol” Barbosa was arrested early Sunday with some 200 other people in a sting at a clandestine Sao Paulo casino flouting coronavirus distancing rules, state authorities said.
Health inspectors and police were alerted to a large gathering at the illegal establishment in the rich Vila Olimpia neighborhood.
On arrival, they witnessed people “flagrantly consuming alcohol, violating social distancing rules and without wearing masks,” the Sao Paulo authority said in a statement.
Gabigol, 24, was brought to a police station and asked to sign a document promising to return to give testimony before he was released, it added.
Police official Eduardo Brotero told GloboNews the player was at “a rather large underground casino” where “many people crowded together, exposed to contagion” with the coronavirus.
Videos provided by the authorities showed the player known simply as Gabigol escorted away by police. He was dressed in a white shirt and black cap and wearing a facemask.
The state of Sao Paulo has been in a “red phase” state of alert since March 6 due to a coronavirus uptick, with the closure of parks, bars, restaurants, museums and non-essential shops.
The pandemic has killed more than 277,000 people out of 11.4 million recorded infections.
Sao Paulo is the hardest-hit state, with nearly 64,000 deaths, and will from Monday be under even stricter curbs with churches closed, sports events cancelled, and a daily 8.00 pm to 5:00 am curfew.
The managers of the casino will be investigated for crimes against public health and a contravention of the ban on such establishments, said Brotero.
Gabigol plays for the Rio de Janeiro team Flamengo and the national team.