Europe’s football communities have been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic as high profile players and team managers test positive for the disease.
In England, Arsenal’s first-team coach, Mikel Arteta was diagnosed with the coronavirus, officially named COVID 19 by the WHO.
Arsenal’s season has been plunged into serious doubt after the entire first-team squad was placed into self-isolation following Mikel Arteta’s positive test for coronavirus.
Arsenal announced on Wednesday evening that their head coach had tested positive for Covid-19 and also admitted that the club would not be able to fulfil some of their upcoming fixtures.
The Gunners were due to take on Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Saturday in the Premier League before travelling to Sheffield United next weekend for an FA Cup quarter-final.
Both of those games at the very least will now have to be rescheduled, with Arsenal’s squad having to self-isolate for 14 days following their last point of contact with Arteta.
That came on Tuesday, when the Spaniard led a full training session at London Colney in preparation for Arsenal’s match at Manchester City, which was due to be played on Wednesday night.
That game was subsequently called off, however, when some of the Arsenal players had to go into self-isolation after it emerged they had come into contact with Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who is also suffering from coronavirus, after the Gunners’ defeat to the Greek side in the Europa League on February 27.
That period of self-isolation had been due to end on Thursday night, but the period of quarantine has now been extended until Tuesday, March 24 – with all members of the first-team squad included.
Arteta first started to feel ill on Wednesday morning, when the squad was on a day off. He was then tested for Covid-19 and received the news that the test had come back positive at around 9 pm on Thursday.
Arsenal’s city neighbours and London football powerhouse, Chelsea is also devastated as star Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for coronavirus.
The entire Blues first-team, coaches and support staff will now self-isolate, putting Saturday’s match with Aston Villa in serious doubt.
England international Hudson-Odoi, 19, was sent home from their Cobham training ground on Monday morning after having cold-like symptoms.
He has not been back at the training ground since but the Blues also announced the main buildings, as well as several other buildings on the complex, will be closed.
It now appears likely Chelsea’s Premier League clash at Aston Villa, scheduled to kick off at 5.30 pm on Saturday, will also be called off.
A statement on the club website read: “Chelsea men’s team player Callum Hudson-Odoi had a positive test result for Coronavirus returned this evening.
“Despite testing positive for the virus, Callum is doing well and looking forward to returning to the training ground as soon as it is possible.
“We wish Callum a speedy recovery and look forward to welcoming him back to the club soon.”
Sunsport, a British publication also revealed how Man City star Benjamin Mendy has been tested after a close family member fell ill at his home.
Three Leicester City players have been isolated from the rest of the squad after displaying flu-like symptoms, the club has said. Leicester believe that the players were suffering from common seasonal illness but have taken the precautions recommended by the government in the face of the coronavirus outbreak.
Brendan Rodgers, the manager, said: “We’ve had a few players that have shown symptoms and signs [of coronavirus]. We’ve followed procedures and [as a precaution] they have been kept away from the squad.”
A statement from the club later clarified the manager’s remarks. “In recent days all three players presented with extremely mild illness and were advised by club medical staff, consistent with current government guidance, to stay home and contact the NHS 111 service.
“All three players were subsequently advised by NHS 111 that their symptoms were consistent with common seasonal illness and that a seven-day period of self-isolation was appropriate as a precaution. There was no recommendation that further testing would be necessary. The club is in regular contact with the relevant players, whose symptoms remain mild and self-manageable.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Italian football club Juventus announced on that one of its players, defender Daniele Rugani, has tested positive for coronavirus.
Rugani, who also plays for the Italian national team, is the first player in the country’s top football league to test positive for the virus, as the outbreak continues to spread in the country.
Meanwhile, the Italian Serie A, Spain’s La Liga, the Dutch Eredivisie, Portugal’s Primeira Liga and USA’s Major League Soccer have been suspended over coronavirus concerns.
There will be no action in the Spanish top flight for “at least the next two rounds of matches” as a result of the quarantine of the Real Madrid squad.
Netherlands’ top two leagues have also been suspended for the same period.
The 2020 Major League Soccer season – which started less than two weeks ago – has been suspended for 30 days.
La Liga took action after a Real Madrid basketball player, who shares training facilities with the football club, tested positive for the virus.
Real’s match against Manchester City in the Champions League on Tuesday was postponed on Thursday.
“The recommendation has been made to quarantine both the basketball first team and the football first team, given that the two squads share facilities in Ciudad Real Madrid,” a Real statement said.
The Spanish second division has also been suspended and La Liga said it will “revaluate” the situation following the completion of quarantine “in the affected clubs and other possible situations that may arise”.
Real, who are second in La Liga, were due to host Eibar on Friday and had already cancelled all pre-match media duties.