Corinthians players donate money to struggling Venezuelan hotel workers

SAO PAULO -- Brazilian club Corinthians donated $3,000 to hotel staffers in Venezuela before their Copa Libertadores match because of the economic crisis in the country.

It was the second instance this week by a club from Brazil.

Corinthians shared a video on their social media channels showing players and directors handing envelopes to hotel staffers in Cabudare, 350 kilometres (220 miles) from the capital of Caracas. Club chairman Andres Sanchez said the donation was "small, but from the heart of Brazilian brothers."

"It is a little help, a treatment that you deserve," Sanchez said.

Later, coach Fabio Carille said the players took the initiative after hearing stories from hotel staffers.

Venezuela is suffering from crippling hyperinflation and widespread shortages of food and medicine.

Corinthians later beat Venezuelan side Deportivo Lara 7-2 to advance from the group stage.

On Wednesday, Deportivo Lara captain Ricardo Andreutti discussed Venezuela's hardships in a letter published on Brazil's Globo Esporte website.

"Conversations with my teammates are not only about matches, jokes or banter. We spend our time talking about best shopping prices, where to get basic supplies and medicine," Andreutti wrote. "What most working people think is normal, like going out to dinner with the family, we think of it as a blessing that football allows us every now and then."

Players from Copa Libertadores defending champion Gremio made the same gesture in Maturin, where they beat Monagas 2-1.

Venezuelans go to the polls on Sunday when President Nicolas Maduro is seeking a new six-year mandate. He is widely expected to win it.