The latest on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting sports around the globe:
- Spanish soccer not expected to return before summer
- Everton’s Moise Kean breaches lockdown by hosting house party
Spanish health minister says no soccer ‘before summer’
Spain’s health minister said Sunday that Spaniards should not expect to see professional soccer restart before the summer.
Spain has been without soccer since March 12, two days before the nation went into a strict lockdown under a state of emergency to battle its savage coronavirus outbreak that has claimed more than 22,000 lives.
“It would be reckless for me to say now that professional football will be back before the summer,” Salvador Illa said. “We will continue to monitor the evolution [of the virus] and the guidelines we will present will indicate how different activities can return to a new normalcy.”
The Spanish league had already said that play would not resume before late May. Madrid’s mayor had said that he does not expect football before the end of the summer. The government’s health officials, led by Illa, have the final say to authorize the return of sporting activities that would bring together groups of people and present a collective contagion risk.
Illa also appeared to dampen expectations that soccer players would be tested for the virus, as the Spanish league wants to happen on a daily basis once training resumes.
“There is a ministerial order in effect for all different groups, including professional football,” Illa said. “The tests must be put at the disposition of regional authorities, no matter what type of test they are. And it will be for them [the regional health authorities] to decide. We must have a common strategy. All of us must pull in the same direction.”
There is no timetable for when practice would restart.
Some players had also criticized the league’s plan for testing because tests are scarce among the general public in Spain and not recommended by authorities for people who do not show symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.
Everton ‘appalled’ by player’s lockdown breach
Everton say they are “appalled” after images emerged in the media showing Italian striker Moise Kean flouting government lockdown rules by hosting a house party.
The 20-year-old, who joined from Juventus last summer, was reported by British media to have filmed himself at his apartment partying with guests.
“Everton Football Club was appalled to learn of an incident in which a first team player ignored Government guidance and club policy in relation to the coronavirus crisis,” the Premier League club said in a statement.
“The club has strongly expressed its disappointment to the player and made it clear that such actions are completely unacceptable.
“Everton has regularly stressed the importance of following all the Government guidelines — including rules and advice for inside and outside of the home — through a series of official communications to all staff members, including players.”
British soccer has been suspended since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed at least 20,000 people in the country. A return is not imminent with the best-case scenario being a re-start in mid June.
Soccer has been in the spotlight with clubs and players coming under scrutiny about their response. Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool both came under fire for furloughing non-playing staff — decisions they later reversed.
Kean is not the only player to flout rules during the lockdown. Manchester City’s Kyle Walker could be disciplined after British media reported he broke lockdown rules by hosting a party involving two sex workers.
Walker apologized for his actions in a statement, saying he had let down his family, friends, club, supporters and the public.
Tottenham’s Serge Aurier and Moussa Sissoko apologized after a photo emerged of them training together while Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho “accepted his actions were not in line with protocol” after holding a one-on-one training session in a public park with midfielder Tanguy Ndombele.
Players and clubs have offered support throughout the crisis though. Premier League players joined forces to start the #PlayersTogether initiative to raise money for the Britain’s National Health Service.