Madrid, July 23
Spanish soccer got here inside hours of pulling off the proper comeback in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.
The first division completed its delayed schedule with Real Madrid profitable the title and the second tier reached the ultimate spherical of matches with out glitches. Only the promotion playoffs could be left in a season that lingered after a three-month break due to the pandemic.
But chaos struck simply earlier than the common season might be accomplished.
It was about 5 p.m. native time (1500 GMT) on Monday, 4 hours earlier than the final-round kickoff, when Spanish league president Javier Tebas was advised of an outbreak of coronavirus instances at Madrid-based membership Fuenlabrada. Six gamers and two members of the membership’s technical employees had examined optimistic for COVID-19.
“It’s when the situation got complicated,” Tebas advised Spanish TV.
“According to the protocols, the game couldn’t be played.” Fuenlabrada, combating for a berth within the playoffs, had a decisive match in opposition to Deportivo La Coruña, the previous first-division champion that was dealing with relegation. Deportivo gamers had already arrived for the sport on the Riazor Stadium once they heard the information concerning the optimistic instances at Fuenlabrada.
The league, the Spanish soccer federation and native authorities officers had little time to make a tricky determination: droop solely the Deportivo-Fuenlabrada match or your entire last spherical.
All matches have been scheduled to be performed on the identical time so nobody would get an unfair benefit. But suspending all video games past the anticipated finish of the season would add the chance of some gamers enjoyable their health, and would improve the potential of extra outbreaks amongst groups.
“If these matches were played in 10 days, what would be the players’ conditions? They were supposed to go on vacation,” Tebas mentioned.
“We would also have the sanitary risk. Maybe these matches wouldn’t even be played.” So the choice to droop solely the match affected by the outbreak drew a wave of criticism — and threats of lawsuits — from golf equipment saying that the integrity of the competitors was broken.
The league immediately discovered itself in a tricky spot.
Deportivo, which ended relegated due to a mixture of ends in the ultimate spherical, requested for all matches to be replayed, as did different golf equipment who felt they have been harm by the choice.
The league mentioned they shouldn’t be performed once more, but it surely might be as much as the sports activities courts to finally resolve who will get promoted or relegated. The promotion playoffs have already been delayed till the Deportivo-Fuenlabrada match may be rescheduled.
Tebas mentioned it was precisely due to the potential of issues like this that the league tried to complete the season as rapidly as potential, enjoying video games each day because it resumed after the break. The Italian league, for instance, most popular to unfold out its matches over an extended interval, ending nearer to the resumption of the European competitions in August.
“You have to remember that we had more than 200 matches, thousands of training sessions and hundreds of team trips,” he mentioned.
“There was a chance that something could happen. We reserved almost three weeks to try to recover if something like this happened.”
Tebas mentioned considerations elevated in current weeks after surges of instances throughout hard-hit Spain, and the league had been warning golf equipment about the necessity to keep on excessive alert. It mentioned it can examine whether or not Fuenlabrada broke the league’s well being security protocols that had been in place to ensure the competitors completed with out issues.
Spain’s sports activities council on Wednesday launched a press release by which it praised the success of soccer’s return but additionally expressed its concern with what occurred with Fuenlabrada. It accused the league and the membership of not following protocols because the crew shouldn’t have traveled for the match after some members had already examined optimistic on the weekend. It mentioned the league and the membership ought to have instantly knowledgeable well being authorities of the COVID-19 instances.
“Fuenlabrada’s decision has put in danger the health of its players and of the public, and jeopardized the competition as a whole,” the assertion mentioned.
Fuenlabrada strongly contested what it referred to as “very serious” and “false accusations” made by the sports activities council. It mentioned it by no means breached any of the well being security protocols.
Still, some golf equipment have already referred to as for Fuenlabrada to lose the factors from the match whether it is confirmed that it breached well being security guidelines.
The Spanish league, which additionally denied any wrongdoing and criticized the sports activities council’s assertion, had among the strictest protocols for the return of coaching and the resumption of competitors following the pandemic break. It was the second high league to renew, after the German Bundesliga.
“We’ve got one match to go after 42 rounds,” Tebas mentioned.
“We were able to play more than 400 matches. We only have one left.” — AP