The Turkish football club BB Erzurumspor has reported 11 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among players and staff, casting a shadow over plans to resume professional football in Turkey next month.
Büyükşehir Belediye Erzurumspor – a municipality club from the eastern Anatolian city of Erzurum that plays in Turkish football’s second tier – announced on Twitter on Wednesday that four players and seven staff members had tested positive for COVID-19, and a further 12 people at the club suspected of having the virus had been sent to hospital for repeat tests, Anadolu news agency said.
Erzurumspor’umuzda bugün yapılan 2. Covid-19 testi sonucu 4 futbolcumuz, 1 teknik heyet, 1 A takım personeli 5 kulüp çalışanının (11) test sonucu pozitif çıkmış, buna ilaveten durumu şüpheli olan 12 kişi testlerinin tekrarlanması için hastaneye sevkleri sağlanmıştır.
Erzurumspor’s President Hüseyin Üneş said the club’s facilities have been disinfected and would be closed for 14 days, Anadolu news agency reported.
“I am sorry to say, we have a football player who had a child 20 days ago and he got the news when he was with his family. He will be quarantined with his family,” Üneş said.
All of Erzurumspor’s staff were tested this week. Last week, Nihat Özdemir, the president of the Turkish Football Federation, announced that Turkey’s professional leagues and its regional amateur leagues would resume behind closed doors in June. Turkish football has been suspended since March 19 due to the coronavirus.
This week the TFF clarified that the Turkish Super League would resume on June 12; the second tier TFF First League would resume on June 19; while the third, fourth, and regional amateur leagues would resume on July 18.
However, the dangers of playing behind closed doors or even training have been highlighted by the players, coaches, and staff already infected by the virus. On Saturday, the Istanbul football club Beşiktaş announced that a player and a staff member had tested positive for COVID-19.
Last week, the Istanbul club Fenerbahçe cancelled training after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19, and Super League club Ankaragücü announced that one of its players had tested positive for the coronavirus and had been hospitalised for treatment.
The former Chelsea midfielder Jon Obi Mikel told the Guardian in March how players were scared by the Turkish Super League’s decision to keep playing football for a round of matches behind closed doors, before finally suspending the leagues on March 19. He said that voicing his concerns had caused him to part ways with his club Trabzonspor.
Several clubs have sent ‘get well soon’ messages to Erzurumspor on Twitter.
“We convey our wishes to the footballers and club staff at BB Erzurumspor Club who have tested positive for the coronavirus, and we hope that they will regain their health as soon as possible,” Super League club Galatasaray said on Twitter.