Spanish league cancels game involving club affected by virus

July 26, 2020 - 10:43 am

MADRID (AP) — The second-division game postponed because of an outbreak of coronavirus cases will not be played, the Spanish league said Sunday.

The league made the announcement after new test results took the total number of COVID-19 cases at club Fuenlabrada to 28, with players and staff members among those infected.

The team's final-round match against Deportivo La Coruña was suspended last Monday after six people at the club had tested positive just hours before kickoff.

The league said the club accepted the decision to have the match canceled as it was virtually impossible to try to reschedule another date for it. The league thanked Fuenlabrada for is “generosity” in understanding the situation.

The cancellation meant Fuenlabrada will not have a chance to reach the promotion playoffs for the top flight. It needed at least a draw in the game at already relegated Deportivo to make it to the playoffs. The final berth will remain with Elche, which would have been out had Fuenlabrada earned a point in the postponed match.

The playoffs had been on hold since the match was postponed.

“This enormous sacrifice by Fuenlabrada, renouncing the possibility of playing in the playoffs and abandoning what its players had achieved through hard work throughout the season, allows for the rest of the clubs to finish their season," the league said.

Fuenlabrada later said it “was not renouncing" its playoff spot, only that it would accept the decision made by officials. It said the league was not competent to make that decision by itself, and wanted the Spanish soccer federation and the nation's sports council to weigh in as well. It said it was still willing to play the postponed match if that was the decision reached by all those involved.

Spanish league president Javier Tebas said on Twitter that “soccer owed one” to Fuenlabrada, and that the club's "opportunity would eventually come.”

The league had said that even though it was thankful to Fuenlabrada, the investigation on whether the club breached health safety protocols would still go on. Fuenlabrada has always denied any wrongdoing. Tebas said the club wasn't at fault for making the trip for the match against Deportivo, saying it only followed the league's instructions.

Other clubs had already asked for Madrid-based Fuenlabrada to lose the points from the match against Deportivo because of its alleged breach of protocols that could have been responsible for the outbreak.

Some clubs wanted the entire final round to be played again because by rules all games had to be played at the same time so no one would be at a disadvantage. Elche complained because it said Deportivo would have nothing to play for when it faced Fuenlabrada.

One of Fuenlabrada's players infected with COVID-19 was hospitalized on Friday. The entire team has remained in isolation since last week.

The Spanish league's first division finished without glitches last weekend, with Real Madrid winning its first title in three years after a near-perfect run after the coronavirus break.

The league had some of the strictest protocols for the return of training and the resumption of competition following the pandemic break. It was the second top league to resume, after the German Bundesliga.

Spain, one of the hardest-hit countries by the coronavirus, had the pandemic mostly under control until some surges of new cases started being reported recently.

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