Italian-Nigerian footballer King Udoh on Thursday became the first professional football player to be diagnosed with the disease in Italy.
Information that the striker from Pianese, a Tuscan club playing in Serie C (third division), was infected with coronavirus was given by the daily newspapers La Naziones and La Gazzetta dello Sport before being widely relayed on social networks.
The 22-year-old footballer, who is currently in the infectious disease department of La Scotte hospital in Siena, is in good condition.
The player, it was learnt, had placed himself in quarantine last weekend, after feeling feverish.
He was scheduled to play last Sunday with his team against Juventus’ U-23 team (a 1-0 loss), but ultimately did not take part in the game.
Although not approaching opposing players, Juventus decided to take certain measures to observe its players.
As for the entire Pianese team, they are now in quarantine, as a precaution.
Italy is the European country most affected by the epidemic.
…footballers in fear of virus spread
Footballers worried about the impact of coronavirus have been contacting unions “out of fear” they could be forced to play in “high-risk environments”, according to global body Fifpro.
Qualifiers for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and 2022 World Cup could be postponed in a bid to prevent the spread.
This weekend’s matches in Switzerland’s top two divisions have been postponed.
Tottenham’s Son Heung-min will self-isolate in line with UK guidelines when he returns from surgery in South Korea.
Newcastle and West Ham have banned handshakes at their training grounds in an attempt to stop the virus’ spread.
Fifpro, a global union with 65 affiliated national associations, says there have been talks between “various football stakeholders” about rescheduling international dates.
A number of World Cup qualifying matches in the Asian Football Confederation, including Australia’s home match against Kuwait and Hong Kong’s trip to Iran, are set to be played at the end of March.
China’s home qualifier against the Maldives has already been moved to Thailand and is set to be played behind closed doors.
Asian Champions League matches involving Chinese clubs Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai Shenhua have also been postponed.
Five Italian Serie A matches will be played behind closed doors this weekend – including Juventus’ match at home to Inter Milan.
“While we understand the inconvenience this causes worldwide, the Covid-19 outbreak is bigger than football, and we applaud the willingness of competition organisers to take firm action in this delicate period,” said Fifpro, which works on behalf of more than 65,000 players.
“As the coronavirus continues to spread, with new cases emerging every day, we are calling on all football stakeholders to act responsibly.”
Tottenham forward Son, 27, travelled to Seoul for surgery on a fractured arm earlier this month.
Tottenham say he will follow government advice and stay indoors as a precaution upon his return.
Newcastle manager Steve Bruce said his squad had a “ritual” of shaking hands with each other every morning.
“We’ve stopped that on the advice of the doctor,” he said.
“Thankfully, we’ve got a superb doctor here and he will keep us informed of what we have to do.
“We’re like everybody else, we’re glued to the TV for where it’s going to go next and let’s hope it doesn’t get any worse in this country.”
[This article was previously published on punch]