London (AFP) – Scotland’s Nations League trip to the Czech Republic on Monday will go ahead as planned, with the hosts fielding an entirely new squad of players and coaches due to coronavirus concerns.
The Czech football association (FACR) initially said they were postponing the match after beating Slovakia 3-1 on Friday.
However, after UEFA confirmed the game will take place as scheduled in Olomouc, the FACR said they will form a team of “new players and staff members”.
The Czechs preparations for Friday’s match had been affected after West Ham midfielder Tomas Soucek and Roma forward Patrik Schick were told to self-isolate after coming into contact with a backroom staff member who tested positive for the virus.
The FACR delayed their departure for Slovakia by 24 hours while the entire squad was re-tested and the players made the 200-mile journey by road after splitting up into small groups.
In Friday’s statement, the Czech association said: “There is great concern that the virus could spread further.”
According to UEFA’s new regulations for international fixtures which were announced last week, matches will go ahead as long as a team has 13 available players after Covid-19 testing.
A UEFA spokesperson told AFP: “The match is going ahead as scheduled.”
Scotland are due to travel to Olomouc on Sunday and The Scottish FA (SFA) said they and UEFA had been taken by surprise by Friday’s announcement.
“We were as surprised as UEFA to learn of the statement posted on the official FACR channels last night,” said SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell in a statement.
“Following extensive conversations late last night and this morning we have received categorical assurance that the match goes ahead.
“Furthermore, Czech Republic have confirmed they will be able to fulfil their obligations to the match and, more importantly, to the stringent COVID-19 testing regime that is sacrosanct to ensure the safety of our players and staff.
“While we empathise with all national associations during this period of global uncertainty, none the less we required and received absolute assurance that we will be entering a safe and secure environment having worked diligently in Scotland to maintain safety and adherence to UEFA’s necessary COVID-19 protocols.”
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