COVID-19: Copa Libertadores fields first female match officials

Copa Libertadores drafted first female officials in at the last minute to officiate in two matches after the scheduled officials tested positive for COVID-19.

Assistant referee Mariana de Almeida warms up before a Copa Libertadores match between Racing and Nacional at Juan Domingo Peron Stadium on Thursday.   -  Getty Images

The Copa Libertadores made history on Thursday with its first female officials, drafted in at the last minute to officiate in two matches after the scheduled officials tested positive for COVID-19.

Four Brazilians were among those named to run the Racing versus Nacional game in Buenos Aires but they tested positive and were replaced by two Chileans and two Argentines, one of whom was assistant referee Mariana de Almeida.

The situation was repeated in the match between Argentine side Defensa versus Justicia and Ecuadorean club Delfin.

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Two Chileans were among the five officials named to take charge of the game but the pair, an assistant referee and fourth official, tested positive for COVID-19 and were replaced by new officials, including Argentine assistant Daiana Milone.

Although female officials have long appeared at the top level in nations such as Brazil and Argentina, they had never been named to officiate in the Copa Libertadores, South Americas equivalent of Europe's Champions League.

The Libertadores restarted this week after a six-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic but continued positive tests have caused problems in the Americas, the region with the worlds highest number of infections and deaths.

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