Brazil striker Gabriel Barbosa arrested in illegal casino raid

2021-03-15 00:35:26 GMT2021-03-15 08:35:26(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

RIO DE JANEIRO, March 14 (Xinhua) -- Flamengo and Brazil international striker Gabriel Barbosa issued a public apology on Sunday after being detained for attending an illegal casino.

The 24-year-old was one of at least 20 people arrested after police raided the clandestine venue in Sao Paulo with dozens of people inside, officials said.

The incident occurred just three days after Sao Paulo governor Joao Doria announced sweeping new restrictions - including a two-week ban on all football - to counter a spike in coronavirus infections and deaths.

"There was a lack of sensitivity on my part," Barbosa told TV Globo. "It was the last day of my holidays and I was enjoying some rare free time with my friends. We were using face masks and alcohol gel at all times. I was just leaving because I saw that more people had arrived."

Sao Paulo deputy mayor Ricardo Nunes told media that authorities had acted after receiving an anonymous tip-off.

"When we got here we found that in addition to an enormous number of people, more than 200 in an unventilated room, there was a casino, which is illegal. There were also some celebrities, for example, Gabigol," Nunes said.

More than 278,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Brazil and the country's health ministry has reported over 11 million confirmed cases of the virus.