Cologne calls concerned player to account for virus comments

SEDAN: Suburb has called midfielder Birger Verstraete to account for an interview he gave in which he criticized the club for handling three positive cases of the coronavirus .

The Bundesliga said Sunday that Verstraete had given a false impression of the club's training security measures in an interview on Saturday with Belgian television station VTM. He said he followed the league's medical advice and that all players would be retested before training can resume on Monday.

In a statement on the club website, Verstraete said, "Instead of giving an interview out of emotion, I should have contacted our doctor and had my questions answered. It was not my intention to blame the responsible authorities or FC Suburb ."

Verstraete had told VTM in an interview on Saturday that two players and a physical therapist were confirmed with COVID-19 and that it was difficult for him to focus on soccer, especially since his girlfriend is at high risk due to a previous heart condition.

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I want everyone to be healthy before playing soccer again, Verstraete said.

The players had been training in small groups, but that had not alleviated Verstraete's concerns.

We trained in two groups and you know the children were extremely close to me, Verstraete told VTM. The test was conducted on Thursday around 4 p.m. M. And before that we had been together from 9 a. M. A 3 p. M. We worked together, we trained together. Thursday's test did not show that I am positive and that is why there will be another test tomorrow.

The three affected people were immediately quarantined for 14 days, but otherwise the training continued as before.

Team doctor Paul Klein defended the club's handling of cases on Saturday, saying that training with those who tested negative was still possible due to hygiene and infection prevention measures in group training since no one had had prolonged contact with those affected.

But Verstraete said the decision not to quarantine the entire squad is a bit strange.

Verstraete said the club was literally correct. But the physical therapist is the man who treated me and other players for weeks. And I paired up with one of the two players in the gym on Thursday. So to say that we did not come into contact with them is not entirely correct.

Bundesliga players and staff began sampling on Thursday as part of an ongoing process that points to a return to full training and then to games later this month.

It is not up to me to decide what to do with the Bundesliga, but I can say that my head is not in football. If you see how close (the virus) is, Verstraete said. The health of my family, girlfriend, in fact everyone, is paramount.

On Sunday, Verstraete told Suburb 's website that his girlfriend "will head home to Belgium and stay there for the time being."

Most teams have not commented on the test results. Werder Bremen , Bayer Leverkusen , Eintracht Frankfurt, Hoffenheim Hertha Berlin and Union Berlin reported negative results before another round of testing on Sunday.

Second division team Stuttgart reported an inconclusive result of one person, reportedly a player, who was separated from his colleagues and quarantined for 14 days before another test on Monday.

A Paderborn player tested positive in March.