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Football: the League adapts its health protocol in the face of the surge in Covid-19 cases


Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 players and their managers will now be subject to a mandatory test 48 hours before each match, whether or not they are vaccinated, according to the new health protocol finalized on Tuesday by the Professional Football League. The length of isolation imposed on players who test positive is also changing.

Eight contaminated players in Lorient, Gianluigi Donnarumma positive for Paris SG … While the Covid-19 continues to threaten Ligue 1, French football revised its health protocol on Tuesday to increase the number of tests and reduce the durations of isolation. Since the end of the winter break, each day has brought its share of bad news, to the point of threatening to disrupt the resumption of L1 in 2022 this weekend for the 20th day.

A resurgence of cases in European football

Like the English Premier League in recent weeks, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona in Spain or Bayern Munich in Germany (eight sick players), French football is not immune to the resurgence of the pandemic linked to the Omicron variant. After the postponement of the meeting between Angers and Saint-Etienne, initially scheduled for Sunday, due to an outbreak on the SCO side (19 players affected), Bordeaux will ask that its match against Marseille on Friday be also postponed due to contamination. in series with the Girondins.

Doubts also remain around Lille-Lorient, scheduled for Saturday, after the discovery of positive tests within the two formations. Losc deplores seven sick players, but announced on Tuesday that it had not detected any additional cases. The Hake have eight infected, plus four members of the staff.

A test 48 hours before the meeting

In L1, a club can request the postponement of a match if it does not have the morning of the match of a minimum of 20 players (including a goalkeeper) on its official list of 30 declared, i.e. from 11 players affected the same time. PSG is not there (five cases), but it may have to do without important assets for the shock in Lyon on Sunday. The presence of Lionel Messi, whose positive test was announced on Saturday, remains uncertain. The Argentinian, who had visited his native country during the holidays, is waiting for a favorable result to be able to return to France.

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The package of goalkeeper Donnarumma is recorded, the Italian international having tested positive Tuesday, the day after the Coupe de France match in which he took part. His participation in this round of 16 in Vannes (4-0) raises fears of other positive cases among his teammates in the days to come. “It’s a very strange virus,” his trainer Mauricio Pochettino admitted on Monday.

This increase in cases, as well as the new instructions issued by the government on the isolation of patients and their contact cases, prompted the Professional Football League (LFP) to review its health protocol on Tuesday. Main novelty of the document, which AFP was able to consult: L1 and L2 players will now be subjected to a test 48 hours before each meeting, whether or not they are vaccinated, and will only be able to participate in the match in the event of negative result.

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Lighter isolation conditions

Previously, the formations were not obliged to test their vaccinated players, which created a beginning of controversy in recent days. “It seems to me to be a problem. It lacks clarity, it would be necessary to align everyone”, annoyed Monday the coach of Lille Jocelyn Gourvennec. The new text should also make it possible to reduce the duration of isolation for sick players, which could make it possible to avoid certain postponements. The previous protocol, dated December 7, provided for a minimum and incompressible duration of absence of 17 days, between the ten days of compulsory isolation and the 7 days of resumption of training with distancing.

From now on, a vaccinated player who tests positive will have to isolate himself for seven whole days, a period which can be reduced to five days in the event of a negative test and absence of symptoms. For an unvaccinated or incompletely vaccinated player, these periods are fixed at ten and seven days respectively. The recovery and re-athletic period remains fixed at seven days. “The collective resumption (training or match) is therefore at best on the 13th day” for a vaccinated player, specifies the text which also provides for the wearing of the compulsory mask in stadiums from 6 years old.

Finally, the document confirms the government principle of a gauge reduced to 5,000 people in the stages of L1 and L2, while the clubs were rather campaigning for gauges proportional to the size of the enclosure. As a result, the LFP dispensed clubs from the obligation to reserve part of the places for visiting supporters.

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