Thursday, 23 April 2020

Colombian President dismisses idea of restarting football league

Return of Colombian soccer not viable, says president
Colombian President Ivan Duque dismissed on Tuesday the idea of restarting the county's soccer league behind closed doors, saying to do so would endanger the health of players and staff.

"Explain to me how one can guarantee a competition with more than 20 teams and not one player has the coronavirus?" Duque said in a radio interview with the La FM station.

"Explain to me how one guarantees that in addition to the players and the coaching team, that in addition to them the whole support staff, the physiotherapists, the kit men, the transportation staff, that none of them has the coronavirus. It’s very difficult."

The South American nation declared a public health emergency on March 12 and suspended all public events, including the main soccer leagues for both men and women.

Since then, Colombia has recorded almost 4 000 cases of Covid-19 and 189 fatalities.

Although some European clubs have begun training again in the hope of finishing the season, the Colombian president said even talking about restarting the league without testing was neither viable nor responsible.

"It would be very irresponsible on my part to tell you that we are going to play football again behind closed doors when there are no conditions for that to happen," Duque said.

"I have yet to see the first championship dare to say that the health of the players is totally guaranteed. It’s not viable."

His words came a day after the Colombian Football Federation and the league organisers sent a protocol for restarting the competitions to the government for its review.

The 36 clubs in the top two tiers have warned they face financial ruin due to lost income from crowd money and TV contracts.

Duque said he had asked his sports minister to listen to the clubs "because we also want to see sustainable resolutions."


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