By Robson Sharuko
Reports that three Leicester City players have been quarantined, because of the coronavirus pandemic, have thrown the spotlight onto Marvelous Nakamba and his Aston Villa teammates.
The two sides clashed in an English Premiership match on Monday at King Power Stadium with the Foxes powering to an impressive 4-0 win.
Brendan Rodgers, the Leicester manager, revealed at a media conference yesterday that three of his players had been sent into self-isolation.
The revelations came amid widespread reports in the British media that three other Premiership players had complained of symptoms consistent with coronavirus.
“We had a few players that have shown symptoms and signs,” Rodgers said.
‘‘We’ve followed procedures and (as a precaution) they have been kept away from the squad.
‘‘It would be a shame (if the Watford game were postponed), but the public’s health is the most important in all of this.
‘‘The game is all about the players and the fans and if you have one of those not there, it’s obviously not the same.”
Leicester City then released a statement confirming their manager’s revelations.
“In recent days, all three players presented with extremely mild illness and were advised by club medical staff, consistent with current government guidance,’’ the club said.
“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.”
The revelations by Leicester City casts focus on the Aston Villa players after the two sides met at King Power on Monday night.
‘‘Aston Villa placed on alert after Brendan Rogers reveals Leicester City coronavirus fear,’’ screamed the headline of an article in the Birmingham Post yesterday.
Nakamba was the outstanding player for his Villa side, on a night they were blown away by the rampant Foxes, with manager Dean Smith praising the Zimbabwean midfielder.
Villa did not immediately respond to the revelations from the Foxes’ camp.
However, Villa manager, Dean, had ironically questioned whether the decision to bar players from shaking the hands of opponents, before and after the match, could work to combat the spread of coronavirus.
“They’ll be jumping on each other and, hopefully, jumping on me in the last minute as well,” Smith told the Birmingham Post.
“Listen, they’ve stopped the Fair Play hand shake before the game. It’s probably about time they stopped that. It’s at the end of the game when you show your respect to the opposition after you’ve played them.
“Who knows where we go? We’re following the Government’s advice and the doctor’s advice here. The players are aware of everything to stop that spread.’’
On yet another dramatic day, in which sport succumbed to the power of the coronavirus outbreak, a number of high-profile events were postponed around the globe, while the UEFA leadership called for a meeting on Tuesday next week to discuss the possibility of postponing Euro 2020.
Here is a glimpse of what happened yesterday:
The World Football Summit, which had been scheduled to start in Durban on Tuesday next week, was postponed with the organisers saying they were now considering holding the summit, in the same city, in July and August.
The Australian Grand Prix, the season-opening race on the Formula One calendar, was postponed yesterday amid fears of the coronavirus.
English Premiership club Chelsea cancelled training yesterday and sent experts to deep-clean their training ground after one of their players complained of symptoms synonymous with coronavirus.
The UEFA Champions League last 16, second leg match between Manchester City and Real Madrid at the Etihad next week was also postponed by UEFA after the Spanish giants’ players were sent into self-isolation for the next two weeks.
The National Basketball Association programme was postponed indefinitely.
British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said his Government was considering suspending sporting activities in the country in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.
He revealed this at a media conference where it was confirmed that, as of yesterday, there were about 590 cases related to coronavirus in the United Kingdom with more than 20 people in the Intensive Care Unit.
Between 5 000 to 10 000 people could have been exposed to the virus in the UK.
British media reports yesterday suggested more Premiership players could have been exposed in what is being billed as the worst public health crisis to hit Britain in a decade.
The media speculated that it was now just a question of time before the matches were called off.
‘‘Meanwhile, players at a different Premier League club are today being tested for the coronavirus after three of them displayed symptoms. The test results are expected back tomorrow (today),’’ the Daily Telegraph reported.
‘‘One first-team player at the second club showed symptoms of the virus earlier this week and was immediately placed in self-isolation.
‘‘He appeared to be getting better but has since relapsed with two others subsequently displaying symptoms leading to all the players being tested. All of the players have been sent home.
‘‘If the results come back positive the club’s game this weekend will certainly be called off.
‘‘The spate of suspected coronavirus cases has put huge pressure on the Premier League to follow the lead of other European leagues and suspend all matches.
‘‘In fact, it appears inevitable that will happen once a case is confirmed, with the Premier League otherwise in danger of being accused of not being in control of the situation.
‘‘There is a desire at some clubs for the Government to intervene today and take the matter out of the Premier League’s hands rather than wait for things to escalate.’’
The Professional Footballers’ Association, which represents all the professional players in the English game, said they were monitoring the situation.
“Along with other player associations from around the world, we have been in meetings with FIFPRO this week to discuss all eventualities and potential next steps with regards to the coronavirus,” PFA deputy chief cxecutive, Bobby Barnes, said in a statement.
“I have also been directly involved in conversations with other relevant authorities, including UEFA, on this matter.
“This is a very fast-moving situation which is subject to change on an hourly basis. We are discussing with governing bodies, not only in the UK but also globally, to ascertain the best advice and information for our members.
“Players will and should be taking medical advice from the appropriate medical staff at their individual clubs together with their respective government’s national advice at this time.
‘‘It is important to stress that this is a public health issue, not just for football, but the wider community – that should be on the forefront of everybody’s minds when making decisions.” The Herald