Spanish Footballers' Association concerned about players undergoing large-scale testing for coronavirus

Football in Spain has been indefinitely suspended since March although organising body La Liga has sent a protocol to clubs in the top two divisions outlining conditions for restarting training which includes vigorous testing for players and staff

Reuters April 24, 2020 21:17:00 IST
Spanish Footballers' Association concerned about players undergoing large-scale testing for coronavirus

Barcelona: The Spanish Footballers’ Association (AFE) is concerned about players undergoing large-scale testing for the novel coronavirus as it believes other sections of society need tests more urgently, the organisation said in a statement on Friday.

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Representational image. AP

Football in Spain has been indefinitely suspended since March although organising body La Liga has sent a protocol to clubs in the top two divisions outlining conditions for restarting training which includes vigorous testing for players and staff.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has said matches in closed stadiums could commence from 29 May, 7 June or 28 June in a bid to complete the last 11 rounds of the season and avoid potential losses of one billion euros ($1.08 billion).

The statement from the players’ association said it had written to the health ministry and the sports ministry to ask if clubs were authorised to conduct tests.

It also reiterated players’ concerns about returning to work while the virus was still a threat and said they were wary of being stigmatised by the public for using testing equipment at a time of heightened public need.

“AFE wishes to point out that footballers have made it clear that other groups in society need tests and access to healthcare equipment more than they do,” said the statement.

“As workers, footballers will do as they are asked to by their clubs as long as there are no risks, which is why we believe it is absolutely necessary that the government provides clarity about testing.”

La Liga’s protocol, which has been distributed to clubs and seen by Reuters, states that players will be subject to at least three tests before returning to action. Players will also be obliged to live together in isolation, away from their families.

The sports ministry released a statement on Friday outlining a plan for professional athletes to return to work, which stated that players in the top two divisions of football and basketball could be back in full training by 18 or 25 May.

It also gave a list of benefits from sport resuming, which include boosting the flailing Spanish economy, protecting Spain’s reputation as an international sporting powerhouse and giving people a sense that normality was returning.

Spain has the third highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in the world at 22,524 although its daily death toll fell to the lowest in more than a month on Friday as the government prepares to ease one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns from May.

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