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European football struggles to cope with COVID-19 resurgence



For Slovan Bratislava, August 21 was a dark day filled with turmoil and unimaginable pain. The Slovakian giants were forced to forfeit their Champions League first qualifying round tie against KI Klaksvik on that fateful day after one of their players tested positive for COVID-19. 

The tie had already been postponed twice after a member of Bratislava's delegation was diagnosed with the deadly virus. Bratislava were ordered to provide a list of additional players who had tested negative and were eligible to play. 

However, a player on the list came down with the coronavirus again, forcing UEFA's hand. The European football governing body later announced that as the fixture could not be played and Bratislava were "deemed to have lost the match 3-0."

The same thing happened with FC Drita. The Kosovan side were dumped out of the Champions League after Swiss authorities commanded the team to quarantine after two players tested positive for COVID-19 on arrival in the country.

Drita's league rivals FC Prishtina also forfeited their Europa League qualifier last week after eight players from the squad were found to have contracted the virus.

European football organizers demonstrated admirable resilience and balancing skills last season as major leagues and continent tournaments resumed play without a hitch despite the pandemic. But a resurgence of infections is wreaking havoc on preparation for the new term.

On Monday, French champions Paris Saint-Germain confirmed that two players have displayed coronavirus symptoms, 10 days before they are expected to start their Ligue 1 title defense at Lens.

The rules in the French league stipulate that team training sessions must be canceled if a club has four positive tests, with match postponements possible. PSG insisted in a statement that the players "have already been subjected to the appropriate health protocol."

French media outlet L'Equipe revealed that the duo could be former Real Madrid and Manchester United winger Angel Di Maria and his compatriot Leandro Paredes, who spent their holidays together in Spain.

On the same day, Italian outfit Atalanta, who lost their Champions League quarter-final to PSG last month, announced that three players had contracted the coronavirus when pre-season training began.

Atalanta finished third in Serie A last season and are based in Bergamo, the city worst hit by the coronavirus in Italy.

Meanwhile, Spanish side Real Sociedad said that former Manchester City star David Silva, who joined the club on a free transfer earlier this month, has tested positive for COVID-19.

The 34-year-old had earlier been unveiled by Sociedad and said at the press conference that he was targeting more silverware after returning to Spain.

Sociedad added that Silva is self-isolating and is displaying no symptoms.

The new La Liga season kicks off on September 11 and Sociedad are set to face a daunting task of getting off to a good start as they host champions Real Madrid.


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