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La Liga threatens quarantine for players who breach health guidelines

Madrid (AFP) – The president of Spain’s La Liga says players could be forced to go into quarantine as the season restarts after its coronavirus-induced suspension, following reports that Barcelona’s Nelson Semedo had breached strict health protocol.

Barcelona said on Thursday that Portuguese defender Semedo “did not train as per protocol established by La Liga”.

That was after reports emerged in Spanish media that he had attended a gathering of more than 20 people in Castelldefels, a beach resort just outside the Catalan capital, going against the country’s strict regulations as it eases out of lockdown.

Four Sevilla players were recently photographed attending a barbecue and the incidents raise the issue of whether teams should go into quarantine between matches to reduce any risk of a new raft of coronavirus infections.

“I am aware that in all cases they have been removed at least from training and I am aware that at some clubs they have also taken disciplinary measures,” La Liga president Javier Tebas told international media on Thursday when asked about the breaches.

“But if it continues we will be forced to do something that we said we were not going to do, which is apply mandatory quarantining.

“Hopefully we don’t have to do this, but if players keep having barbecues and parties, we will have to consider putting in quarantine policies.”

Sevilla and Betis are due to face off later Thursday in the first La Liga fixture since the season was suspended in mid-March. Barcelona, who top the table by two points from Real Madrid, return to action on Saturday against Mallorca.

Spain has been one of the worst hit countries in the world during the pandemic, with over 27,000 recorded deaths.

The guidelines put in place by La Liga for matches allow only around 270 people inside venues.

All players are tested for the virus before games and will arrive wearing masks and gloves and have their temperatures checked before entering the stadium. 

“It’s a really important day, we are in front of fans all over the world again. But I will be most satisfied when the competition is completed,” added Tebas, who also confirmed that La Liga’s intention is for next season to start on September 12.

Meanwhile, the summer transfer window in Spain is likely to run from late July to early October.

“I believe there will be consensus, at least among the big leagues, for it to end a few weeks before the Champions League group phase begins, which will be in October this year, and I think it will open once the domestic competitions are finished at the end of July,” he said.

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