COVID19: APOEL under spotlight after virus outbreak

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APOEL FC has announced another six members of its squad has coronavirus making it 24 cases involving players and staff while the Cyprus Football Association is investigating whether protocols were broken.

Last week, following a game with Nicosia arch-rivals Omonia, the club confirmed a player was infected with COVID-19, the following day it announced another nine footballers and staff had it.

On Saturday, APOEL confirmed another 8 cases and six more on Tuesday.

It is not clear how many players have been infected, but reports say that APOEL has only three goalkeepers and six outfield players fit to play.

Rivals, Omonia accuse APOEL of breaking protocols, endangering the lives of its players and their family, and the club’s performance in the championship and Europe.

Omonia said two of its players tested positive for coronavirus on Friday and one on Sunday, with the club reporting APOEL to the CFA.

It claims that APOEL violated health protocols before a game between the two sides last week by allowing an infected player to play in the Nicosia derby.

The CFA said it is looking into the case, while Omonia has also informed the Health Ministry of the matter.

In a letter to the CFA, Omonia claims that an APOEL player had symptoms a few days after administrative staff had tested positive but trained with the rest of the team.

APOEL refute this saying the player had tested negative, only to test positive later on.

Omonia argues that the unnamed APOEL player had tested positive just before kick-off on December 7, without, however, APOEL informing the CFA.

Allegedly the player was among the team’s starting eleven.

Following the game with APOEL, Omonia played Dutch side PSV Eindhoven in the Europa League last Thursday.

Asked whether Omonia players could have picked up the virus in the Netherlands, Dr Peter Karayiannis, advisor to the government on coronavirus, said COVID-19 needs at least five to become detectable.

Omonia players meanwhile, underwent tests ahead of the European fixture in the Netherlands.

Everyone tested negative but the team was tested upon their return on Friday and two players were found positive.

APOEL said that “If it is true that such lies were included in a letter by Omonia, then apart from being at the disposal of the CFA and the state … we reserve all our legal rights”.

APOEL’s game with Karmiotissa FC at the weekend was postponed as was Wednesday’s Cup game against Apollon.

APOEL have won the Cypriot title a record 28 times but have made a poor start to the 2020-21 season, now languishing in 9th place from 14 teams with only 16 points after 13 games.