World sports

Ronaldo ‘violated’ COVID protocol, says Italy’s sports minister

Agence France-Presse
Ronaldo ‘violated’ COVID protocol, says Italy’s sports minister
The rash of cases among several high-profile athletes casts a shadow over the return of professional sports

Cristiano Ronaldo may have violated Italian coronavirus measures by travelling to Portugal while Juventus were in isolation, returning to Turin this week after testing positive, Italy’s sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora said on Thursday, October 15.

“Yes, I think so, if there were no specific authorizations from the health authority,” Spadafora told Radio Uno when asked whether the 35-year-old Portuguese star had breached COVID-19 rules.

Ronaldo risks a fine after joining his national side last week despite Juventus being in isolation after two staff members tested positive.

Ronaldo and men’s golf world No. 1 Dustin Johnson both tested positive for the coronavirus as a surge in cases casts a shadow over the return of professional sports.

Ronaldo, a five-time Ballon d’Or winner, is asymptomatic but had withdrawn from Portugal’s Nations League game.

“We have respected all the health measures… and yet it happened,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. 

New Zealand also scrapped next month’s friendly against England on Wednesday as the coronavirus played havoc with the return of international football.

America’s Johnson, 36, was forced out of this week’s CJ Cup in Las Vegas as he became the highest-profile golfer to test positive for COVID-19. Johnson said he was “very disappointed.”

The positive tests by two of the world’s top athletes highlight a rash of cases coinciding with the resumption of many sports competitions in recent weeks, often in bio-secure “bubbles” and behind closed doors.

The cases, seen everywhere from football to cycling, rugby union, rugby league, American football and Formula One, also mirror a surge in COVID-19 across much of the world, including Europe and the United States.

Professional sport was brought to a halt worldwide as the pandemic advanced in March, threatening an industry estimated to be worth hundreds of billions of dollars. 

In isolation

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli said Thursday that his club had respected sporting protocol, referring to the “Ministries of Health and the Interior” to find out which rules Ronaldo had broken.

“Cristiano Ronaldo returned to Italy with a medical flight authorized by the competent health authorities at the request of the player and will continue his isolation at his home,” Juventus said in a statement.

The entire Juventus team was back in isolation on Wednesday evening after US midfielder Weston McKennie tested positive. 

Both McKennie and Ronaldo are in quarantine, for at least 10 days, and must test negative before rejoining their teammates.

“I think that, at the moment, the protocols in force for the sports championships, both for Serie A football and for the sports associations and clubs are valid as long as they are respected,” said Spadafora. 

“And if there is someone who does not respect them, then the cases that we read in the news are created.”

Under UEFA rules a player must provide evidence that he is no longer sick a week before a European match.

Ronaldo, who will miss Juventus’s Champions League opener against Dynamo Kiev on October 20, must test negative on October 21 to play against Barcelona a week later. –

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