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COVID19: Random tests for all footballers outside topflight

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The government on Tuesday approved 7,000 free random COVID-19 tests for footballers participating in the lower leagues and Cyprus Football Association (CFA) grassroots level.

Some 7,000 out of 27,000 registered footballers in Cyprus, including the women’s championship, amateur and youth leagues are to be tested by Cyprus health services.

The testing scheme falls under the government’s strategy for containing the pandemic in Cyprus by broadening its testing capacity said a Health Ministry announcement disseminated on Tuesday.

As decided, a total of 7,000 laboratory tests will be conducted by randomly selecting an indicative percentage of players from each lower division.

This will see one in four footballers tested outside the top division.

The scheme, which will mainly focus on amateur players, came after the Cyprus Footballers Association (PASP) complained that players in the junior divisions were not being tested.

Topflight clubs have tested their players, with a number of teams repeating tests regularly.

Last week PASP had argued that non-testing puts the health of athletes at risk while laying the ground for a potential cluster forming among footballers.

PASP in a letter to President Nicos Anastasiades reminded that teams from the second division will be playing games with first division teams, some of which are participating in international tournaments.

The scheme is to be spearheaded and coordinated by the CFA in collaboration with the Health Ministry’s Epidemiological Surveillance Unit.