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Tuesday, December 01, 2020

COVID-19 hits international football again, reverberations felt by clubs

Along with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Naby Keita, Thiago Alcantara, and Xherdan Shaqiri are other Liverpool players who have been reported to have tested positive over the last couple of months.

By: Express News Service | November 16, 2020 9:51:28 am
Mohamed Salah will miss Liverpool's Sunday clash against Leicester City. (File)

Despite a host of complaints by clubs regarding the intense domestic calendar and lack of control over players during an international break, there have been a host of international fixtures over the last few days – be it the UEFA Nations League or the Euro 2020 qualifiers. As it turned out, several players from countries around the world have since tested positive for Covid-19 with many matches either cancelled or under the threat of cancellation or rescheduling.

Gone at half-time

For Croatia captain Domagoj Vida, the bizarre experience of football in Covid-19 times got even stranger when he had to be substituted at half-time during the friendly against Turkey on Wednesday. Vida’s coronavirus test result was made available at the break, and the team management and authorities were left with no other option.

Now his teammate, Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic has also contracted the virus, while Real Madrid fear Luka Modric might have come in contact as well. It has led to Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta asking for a boycott of international football, as reported by the Gazzetta dello Sport: “This situation is creating inequality, so I demand the Minister for Sport (Vincenzo) Spadafora intervene. It alters the regularity of various tournaments. I find it absurd that the ASL (local health unit) in different regions act differently, from Rome to Milan to Florence. There are protocols, but there is also this grey area created by the lack of any central organisation.”

Rules lack consistency

As pointed out by the Inter CEO, the lack of consistency in decision-making and a central authority is a major problem. But the opposite end of the spectrum is also not desirable with the Norway FA and Norwegian government at loggerheads over their fixtures. The government disallowed their team from playing a friendly against Israel and a UEFA Nations League game against Romania last week after a player each from the opposition teams tested positive. “We are very disappointed that the authorities are forcing us to stay home,” Norwegian football president Terje Svendsen added. “All the other 54 UEFA nations are playing international matches this week except Norway.” UEFA will now be looking into the matter and it is possible that a 3-0 victory is awarded to the opposition because of Norway’s failure to show up for the Nations League fixture.

Liverpool’s COVID-19 woes continue

The highest-profile footballer to catch the virus over the weekend was Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah. Liverpool, hit with a string of injuries this season, were dealt yet another blow when the star forward was diagnosed with Covid-19 after attending his brother’s wedding. He is now likely to miss his club’s clash against Leicester City after being in quarantine and showing mild symptoms.

Senegal’s Sadio Mane, Guinea’s Naby Keita, Spaniard Thiago Alcantara and Xherdan Shaqiri of Switzerland are other Reds players who have been reported to have tested positive over the last couple of months. Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp had also spoken about how clubs lacked any form of control over their players when they were with their respective national teams and that the health protocols set by the club may not be matched by national associations.

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