English Football Association’s defiance in the face of coronavirus has come with a price, and Arsenal appears to be the first team to pay in England. Arsenal’s coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive to COVID-19, and it may be more than just him.
Arsenal has issued a statement highlighting the steps the North London club is taking to contain the situation. Read below.
“Arsenal personnel who had recent close contact with Mikel will now self-isolate in line with Government health guidelines. We expect this to be a significant number of people from Colney, including the full first-team squad and coaching staff, as well as a smaller number of people from our Hale End Academy which we have also temporarily closed as a precaution.
“We expect those who did not have close contact with Mikel to return to work in the coming days. In the meantime our Colney and Hale End training centres will undergo a deep clean and our other club sites are operating as normal.”
Managing director Vinai Venkatesham said: “The health of our people and the wider public is our priority and that is where our focus is. Our thoughts are with Mikel who is disappointed but in good spirits. We are in active dialogue with all the relevant people to manage this situation appropriately and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows.”
Head of football Raul Sanllehi added: “Mikel and the full first-team squad, players and staff, will be fully supported, and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows. Obviously Mikel’s full recovery is the priority now for us all.”
“We will work with Public Health England on the next steps in regard to our facilities and staff, and with the Premier League, Football Association and relevant clubs around our forthcoming matches in the Premier League and Emirates FA Cup.
“It is clear we will not be able to play some fixtures on their currently scheduled dates. We will update supporters who have tickets for forthcoming games with more information as soon as possible.
“We are now working to trace any other people who have had recent close contact with Mikel. We will let them know what has happened and they should follow the NHS guidance which is likely to recommend self-isolation.”
Mikel Arteta appears to be in a positive spirit hoping to recover soon and get back to work.
Mikel said: “This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly. I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed.”
The news was coming about an hour after the Premier League had announced that matches will go ahead this weekend with an open stadium and with fans in attendance.
While other league bodies in Europe have been postponing matches and suspending the league, Premiership has remained adamant.
In the UK, up to 10, 000 people are said to be coronavirus positive, yet the FA and the government think it is right for sporting events such as football to continue with fans in attendance. The government has advised everyone showing flu-like symptoms to isolate himself. The advice urged that they should stay at least two meters away from anyone else, sleep alone and ask for help to get things they need.
“Stay away from vulnerable individuals such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions as much as possible,” the advice said.
The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted that the worst is yet to come and the possibility of banning sports fans in the future but said that “there is very little epidemiological or medical reason, at the moment, to ban such events.”
With the number of infected persons skyrocketing in Europe, the World Health Organization WHO has advised against large gathering, a measure Italy, Spain and many other European countries have adopted as a precautionary measure.
Concerned UK citizens have been vocal about the need for the government and the FA to suspend football activities till further notice.
“How can we possibly continue with football in Britain when a top Premier League manager has now tested positive for coronavirus & other players are in quarantine”? Asked Piers Morgan. “This is madness. Our Prime Minister is dodging difficult decisions that other countries are taking and it’s shameful.”
Meanwhile, another Juventus player, Paulo Dybala has been confirmed positive, making it two players from the Italian side to be infected this week.