COVID outbreak at Man City; 4 Serie A games scrapped

·3 min read

ROME — A coronavirus outbreak at Manchester City put manager Pep Guardiola and seven players in isolation while four Serie A teams were ordered into quarantine and unable to play matches on Thursday.

City indicated it still plans to play its FA Cup match on Friday against Swindon with assistant coach Rodolfo Borrell stepping in after Guardiola tested positive.

The English Premier League champions said Guardiola was among 14 backroom staff and seven first-team players “isolating for COVID-related reasons.” An unvaccinated close contact of an infected person also has to isolate in England, but details were not provided.

Burnley manager Sean Dyche tested positive and will miss the team’s FA Cup game this weekend against Huddersfield.

Burnley has played the fewest games in the Premier League after three of its matches were called off because of outbreaks in opponents’ squads and another due to snow.

ITALY

At least four of the 10 Serie A matches scheduled for Thursday won’t be played after local health authorities ordered teams into quarantine amid rising coronavirus cases.

Inter Milan showed up at Bologna’s Dall’Ara stadium for its game despite knowing it wouldn’t be played due to the host team having eight players test positive.

“There’s a lot of confusion. We’re dealing with abnormal situations,” Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta said. “We’ve had matches postponed and positions taken by the ASLs (the local health authorities), who decide autonomously, so that’s why we’re seeing strange things.

“For example, Verona is going to play at Spezia with 11 positives, while other teams have been stopped with lower numbers of positives," Marotta added.

Inter's players warmed up for the game then retreated to the changing room and showered before the referee called off the match after 45 minutes of waiting for Bologna to show up.

The quarantine orders came from authorities in Bologna, Turin, Udine and Salerno.

Torino has six players positive plus two staff members, preventing it playing at Atalanta. Udinese was due to play Fiorentina but has seven players positive along with two staff members. Salernitana, which was due to host Venezia, has nine players and two staff members positive.

Napoli’s match at Juventus is still scheduled to go ahead despite Napoli reporting seven players positive and three staff members, including coach Luciano Spalletti.

The league said if squads have 13 players available, including at least one goalkeeper, then they should play. In all, more than 70 players in the league are positive.

League officials met late Wednesday and decided all of the games should still be played. So none of the games have been officially postponed. That means that teams such as Inter, Atalanta, Fiorentina and Venezia could still show up for matches that they know won’t be played. Then authorities will likely go through a lengthy legal process to decide on the status of the affected games and if they should be postponed to a later date.

Thursday’s matches mark the return of Serie A after a two-week break. Another full slate of 10 matches is scheduled for Sunday.

Thursday is a national holiday in Italy, the Epiphany.

Stadium capacities have been reduced from 75% to 50% following a government decree aimed at combatting the latest outbreak, and spectators must now wear FFP2 masks.

FRANCE

Troyes says 13 players in its squad of 30 have tested positive for the virus and asked the French league to postpone Sunday's game at first-division rival Montpellier.

The game between defending champion Lille and Lorient scheduled for Saturday was postponed because of a high number of positive tests in the Lorient squad.

The league did not specify how many Lorient players have COVID-19 but sports daily L'Equipe's website said it was 12.

A new date for the game has not been set.

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The Associated Press

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