La Liga: Crisis worsens with more Covid cases; 50% attendence cut in Basque Region


Madrid, Dec 30 : The ongoing wave of Covid-19 cases in Spain has been reflected by a sharp rise in the number of infections being reported in La Liga as teams return to training after the short holiday break. According to Spanish sports paper 'Diario AS', the first two days back at training have seen 86 cases of the virus reported by Spanish top-flight clubs, although this number looks set to rise higher in the coming hours as some clubs, such as Atletico Madrid, only get back to work on Wednesday. Barcelona on Wednesday reported that three more players -- Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti and Gavi -- have tested positive. The Spanish club have already been struggling with the cases in their camp as Clement Lenglet, Dani Alves, Jordi Alba and Alejandro Balde had also contracted virus earlier this week. Barca have said all seven players feel fine and are in quarantine at home in line with the league's protocol. Taking into consideration the positive results, plus injuries and suspensions, Barca coach Xavi Hernandez will be without up to 16 first team players for their visit to Mallorca, who themselves are missing four first team players and three members of their coaching staff with Covid-19. On Tuesday Elche reported 12 Covid cases ahead of their game at home to Granada, which is scheduled for Sunday, reports Xinhua. Rayo Vallecano had already detected 12 cases among players and coaching staff before the holidays and the confirmation of more cases on the return to work led the club on Tuesday to request the postponement of Sunday's visit to play Atletico Madrid. La Liga has so far rejected that request. Elsewhere, Real Betis have confirmed six cases, the same as Espanyol, while Cadiz and Levante have five each and Celta Vigo nine. Real Sociedad have been hit with 10 cases in their first team squad and seven in their B-team, while Osasuna have closed their Tajonar training ground to fans and the media after confirming positive test results for striker Chimy Avila and Inigo Perez on Tuesday. The second division Liga SmartBank has been hit just as hard, with Mirandes confirming 17 cases on Wednesday morning. At the moment anyone testing positive for Covid-19 in Spain has to isolate for 10 days, but this could change in the near future with the government preparing to discuss cutting this time to five days. The medical and economic benefits of this measure are certain to be debated, but there is no doubt it would be a huge help to Spain's football clubs. The Basque regional government on Tuesday introduced a measure that would temporarily cut attendance in grounds in the region to 50 percent of capacity, a measure that affects Athletic Club Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Alaves and second division Eibar. /IANS


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