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When Covid-19 ‘turned’ athletes, footballers to spectators

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Former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu is sad over the spread of coronavirus, which has punched sporting events into comatose. He says the virus has in a way ‘killed’ the main source of joy around the globe.

“Sport is anything that stimulates your interest to explore your environment with the resultant benefit to your health,” Adelabu told The Guardian during the week. “With COVID-19, we have abandoned our environment-the sporting arena for one of the deadliest and fastest ‘athlete’ the world has ever seen.”

Adelabu, who played for the crowd-pulling IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan in his active days added: “The COVID-19 virus moves at the speed that is yet to be determined by any known clock. The virus has turned the entire world to become spectators while it destroys and afflicts the health of the human race. The target of the virus is our respiratory apparatus, which is the lifeline of sportsmen and women. It is so sad that many big competitions around the world have to be postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Covid-19 virus has worked its way through society and a number of high profile athletes and footballers are among those to have tested positive.

Leagues and competitions everywhere have been forced on break, while Euro 2020 has now become Euro 2021 as European governments battle to slow the spread.

The biggest of it all, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, has equally been moved to 2021.

The virus does not discriminate and footballers, despite being incredibly fit athletes, are just as susceptible to getting the coronavirus as anyone else.

A number of players, managers and club owners have been affected by a coronavirus. Some have died as a result of the virus.

Some of those diagnosed as having the coronavirus has subsequently had an effect on others, including teammates, coaches and staff. The list is growing on a daily basis.

Mikel Arteta—Arsenal
Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta was among the first set of managers confirmed to have contracted the virus.

As a result, the entire Gunners squad was quarantined and their game against Brighton was postponed.

“This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly,” Arteta said in a statement released by the club. “I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed.”

Evangelos Marinakis — Olympiacos
News of Arteta testing positive came a number of weeks after Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis revealed he had the virus after his side’s Europa League win over the Gunners at the Emirates Stadium.

However, the cases are believed to be unrelated.

Callum Hudson-Odoi—Chelsea
Chelsea star Callum Hudson-Odoi was confirmed to have been a positive Covid-19 case but later revealed that he had recovered from the virus.

“Hi guys, as you may be aware, I had the virus for the last couple of days, which I’ve recovered from,” Hudson-Odoi said on his social media channels.

“I’m following the health guidelines and self-isolating for the week. I hope to see everybody soon and hopefully be back on the pitch very soon. Take care.”

The Blues’ training ground was partially closed in response to the news, while those who had close contact with the player were told to self-isolate in line with the widely observed medical advice.

Benjamin Mendy—Man City
Manchester City defender Benjamin Mendy was understood to have been forced to self-isolate when it emerged that a family member had contracted the virus.

On March 13, Everton announced that their squad was in self-isolation after a player reported symptoms consistent with those of coronavirus. As well as imposing self-isolation measures, the Toffees also closed their training facility at Finch Farm and the club headquarters in Liverpool.

However, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford denied being in self-isolation after it emerged that he had attended a charity boxing event.

Brendan Rodgers indicated that a number of Leicester City players had shown ‘symptoms and signs’ of coronavirus, with those concerned entering a period of self-isolation.

Five Bournemouth staff members, including goalkeeper Artur Boruc, went into voluntary self-isolation after the club confirmed that they had displayed symptoms consistent with Covid-19.

Cardiff City boss Neil Harris confirmed both a player and a member of his staff are in self-isolation for precautionary measures, but club sources stated that neither tested positive for coronavirus.

Sean Raggett—-Norwich City
Norwich-owned defender Sean Raggett, currently on loan at Portsmouth, also tested positive alongside fellow Pompey players James Bolton and Andy Cannon.

Daniele Rugani—-Juventus

In Serie A, a number of players have tested positive for Covid-19, the most notable being Juventus defender
Daniele Rugani.

“You will have read the news and that’s why I want to reassure all those who are worrying about me, I’m fine,” Rugani tweeted.

“I urge everyone to respect the rules because this virus makes no distinctions! Let’s do it for ourselves, for our loved ones and for those around us. #grazie.”

The Italy international was confirmed as a case following Juve’s behind-closed-doors victory over Inter, prompting the Nerazzurri to cancel all competitive activities.

News of Rugani’s diagnosis was a source of concern for a number of his teammates, with Cristiano Ronaldo opting to remain in his hometown of Madeira in an effort to avoid picking up the virus.

Blaise Matuidi—-Juventus
Blaise Matuidi became the second Juventus player to test positive for the virus, with the Serie A side stating on March 17 that he was at home self-isolating and showing no symptoms.

The France international, who received public support from Paul Pogba, issued an update a few days later saying: “I am positive, I am strong. Morale is good.”

Paulo Dybala—-Juventus
Rumours suggested that Paulo Dybala contracted the virus, but the Argentine denied that this was the case, posting an update while in voluntary isolation.

However, it was later confirmed that he and his girlfriend tested positive.


Manolo Gabbiadini—-Sampdoria

South of Turin in Genoa, Sampdoria striker Manolo Gabbiadini became the second player in Serie A to be confirmed as having contracted Covid-19.

Sampdoria later confirmed that Gabbiadini’s teammates Albin Ekdal, Antonino La Gumina, Morten Thorsby, Fabio Depaoli and Bartosz Bereszynski had also tested positive, as well as club doctor Amedeo Baldari.

Omar Colley was also reported to have tested positive but the defender later denied that claim on Instagram.

Fiorentina players Dusan Vlahovic, Patrick Cutrone and German Pezzella have all tested positive for Covid-19.

Paolo Maldini—-AC Milan
On March 21, it was announced that AC Milan legend, Paolo Maldini and his son Daniel tested positive.

A statement on the Rossoneri website said: “Paolo and Daniel are both well and have already completed two weeks at home without contact with others. They will now remain in quarantine until clinically recovered, as per the medical protocols outlined by the health authorities.”

Marco Sportiello—-Atalanta
Atalanta confirmed that goalkeeper Marco Sportiello tested positive for Covid-19.

Spanish giants Real Madrid have been directly affected by the coronavirus outbreak, with the club placed on lockdown after a Blancos basketball player was diagnosed with the virus.

The capital club’s football and basketball teams share facilities, prompting both outfits to quarantine their players and staff.

The news led to the postponement of Real’s Champions League clash with Manchester City and no doubt contributed to La Liga’s decision to suspend the football for two matchdays.

Lorenzo Sanz—-Real Madrid
On March 21, tragedy struck when former Real president Lorenzo Sanz died after contracting the virus.

Their Clasico rivals Barcelona have suspended all activity - training and so on - and told their staff to stay at home. A Barca statement said: “Given the healthcare situation and according to the recommendations of the Club’s medical staff, the first team has suspended all activity until further notice.”

Ezequiel Garay—Valencia

Valencia defender Ezequiel Garay became the first La Liga player to be confirmed as Covid-19 positive, with the club revealing that five cases had been identified among first-team staff and players including former Manchester City defender Eliaquim Mangala.

“All of these persons are now at home, in good health and obeying self-isolation measures,” a statement from Valencia said.

Four cases of Covid-19 within the Valencia squad were confirmed on Monday, March 16, though the affected individuals remained unnamed.

Espanyol confirmed on March 17 that six members of their first-team squad and staff tested positive for the virus, though all had mild symptoms.

Coach Francisco Garcia
Malaga-based club Atletico Portada Alta youth team coach Francisco Garcia died from coronavirus, having had a pre-existing health condition.

Spanish First Division club Alaves confirmed on March 18 that 15 members of the team contract Covid-19, including three footballers (who have been unnamed), seven members of staff and five workers.

Elche has confirmed that one of their players has tested positive, but Real Valldolid has taken a stand on the issue, rejecting test kits for their players and urging them to be used on those who need them.

Kylian Mbappe—-PSG
Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe underwent testing for the virus, but results came back negative ahead of his side’s Champions League last-16 clash with Borussia Dortmund.

Despite that, PSG suspended first-team training, with games across France postponed.

Hyun-Jun Suk

South Korea international Hyun-Jun Suk, who plays for Ligue 2 side Troyes, tested positive after not feeling well for a few days.

Timo Hubers
In Germany, Hannover defender Timo Hubers tested positive for coronavirus, and Paderborn defender Luca Kilian was the first Bundesliga player to contract the disease.

Kilian recovered quite quickly, however, with Paderborn’s sporting director Martin Przondziono telling SZ: “He had two days of real trouble, with fever and chills, but he’s better now.”

Marouane Fellaini
Ex-Manchester United and Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini tested positive for the coronavirus in China.

John Obi Mikel
Former Chelsea star John Obi Mikel walked out of Turkish club Trabzonspor over their handling of the situation, claiming that the club ‘don’t care.’

Jorge Jesus
In Brazil, 65-year-old Flamengo boss Jorge Jesus was cleared of coronavirus after initially testing positive.

“I received the great news that my test for COVID-19 was negative,” Jesus said on Instagram. “I am happy and grateful for the affection, support and concern for my health. I continue in prayer for all those affected.”

Enrique Bonilla
In Mexico, Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla has tested positive for coronavirus and will remain in quarantine.
Paul Akpan Udoh, Italian-Nigerian footballer
A player in the Italian third division – Serie C – has tested positive for coronavirus. BBC in a live update identified the player as Paul Akpan Udoh, who is an Italian-Nigerian footballer.

Udon is a 22-year-old player, who plays for Pianese in Serie C.

He was said to be diagnosed and has been quarantined.

Pep Guardiola donates €1million
Some high-profile individuals are sacrificing their own money to help the cause, with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola confirmed to have donated €1million to the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation.

Roger Federer donates one million Swiss Francs
Tennis great, Roger Federer joined the list of sports stars helping out the needy during the coronavirus pandemic, with the former world number one and his wife donating one million Swiss Francs ($1.02 million) to vulnerable families in his native Switzerland.

Ronaldo donates lifesaving equipment
Portugal and Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo and his agent Jorge Mendes also came together to donate lifesaving equipment to Portuguese hospitals.

Lionel Messi—-Fight against coronavirus
Lionel Messi does not have the virus, but the Argentine did issue a statement of support to those in distress while in isolation with his family.

“These are complicated days for everyone,” Messi wrote in a social media post.

Messi – a six-time Ballon d’Or winner – has made a contribution of his own to the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona.

A Tweet from the clinic read: “Leo Messi made a donation to fight against COVID-19 in the clinic.

Borussia Dortmund players accept a pay cut
Borussia Dortmund announced during the week that its players are taking a temporary pay cut, with CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke calling the move “a valuable sign of solidarity.” The move followed the lead of fellow German club Borussia Monchengladbach, which announced the same last week.

Amir Khan donates building to UK’s health service
Heroes come in many different forms. Amir Khan has won an Olympic medal and multiple world championships, and he was proclaimed a hero many times over for those feats. Never, though, did Khan perform a more heroic act than he did for his country during the week.

The British boxer donated a 60,000-square foot building he is developing to the National Health Service in the United Kingdom to aid in the fight against the coronavirus.


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