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French coach gives virus-hit Beijing press conference from 8,000 kms away

Beijing (AFP) – Beijing Guoan head coach Bruno Genesio gave a press conference Thursday from 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) away in his native France via mobile phone because he is locked out of China by coronavirus.

About a third of the foreign coaches and players in the Chinese Super League (CSL) are missing because China has closed its borders to most overseas visitors.

China, where coronavirus emerged late last year, brought in the strict measure in late March to prevent a wave of imported infections.

The CSL was supposed to begin on February 22 but the season was indefinitely delayed in late January and still has no start date.

One major issue facing China’s football authorities is what to do about the likes of former Lyon coach Genesio and other foreign players and staff stuck outside the country.

The 53-year-old Genesio spoke to reporters in the Chinese capital via video call during an open training day for his team.

A mobile phone was held by a Guoan staff member who translated Genesio’s comments from French to Chinese for the media.

“The team is training normally every day. Although the situation is very difficult now, we use new technical means and mobile phones to overcome all of this,” Beijing News quoted the Frenchman as saying.

Guoan, who finished runners-up last season to Fabio Cannavaro’s Guangzhou Evergrande, have been especially hard hit with French-born striker Cedric Bakambu and Brazilian international Renato Augusto also unable to return.

Cannavaro is in China but he is missing the influential Brazilians Paulinho and Anderson Talisca.

A late June to early July start was recently mooted for the new CSL season, but that now appears increasingly unlikely.

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