The English Premier League broke away from the overwhelming tide of sports leagues canceling games and seasons on Thursday, announcing that the weekend’s matches will go ahead as scheduled despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Less than an hour later, Arsenal announced that manager Mikel Arteta had tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, the Premier League announced it will hold an emergency meeting with clubs Friday morning to discuss future fixtures.
The number of cases in the United Kingdom hit 480 the same day, with eight deaths so far according to the BBC. The Premier League said it was acting in accordance with advice from the Prime Minister’s office to play all sporting events like normal.
One Premier League match between Manchester City and Arsenal has already been postponed, and several of the league’s players are currently under quarantine.
The league’s statement on Friday’s meeting reads:
In light of Arsenal’s announcement tonight confirming that their first-team coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive for COVID-19, the Premier League will convene an emergency club meeting tomorrow morning regarding future fixtures.
The Premier League will make no further comment until after that meeting.
Arsenal to isolate several players
In its announcement, Arsenal said that any team personnel that had recent close contact with Arteta will self-isolate. The squad expects that to include a significant number of players and coaches with the first-team squad, which makes you wonder how they could possibly play a match this weekend.
“The health of our people and the wider public is our priority and that is where our focus is,” Arsenal managing director Vinai Venkatesham said. “Our thoughts are with Mikel who is disappointed but in good spirits. We are in active dialogue with all the relevant people to manage this situation appropriately, and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows.”
Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi also tests positive
Another positive test emerged hours after Arteta’s. Chelsea’s Callum Hudson tested positive for the virus, the squad announced.
Similar to Arsenal, Chelsea said that all personnel who had recent close contact with Hudson-Odio will self-isolate, including the entire men’s team. The men’s team building will also be closed down.
Players from multiple teams quarantined due to coronavirus
While the Premier League was making its announcement, several of its players were under quarantine amid fears of COVID-19.
Three players on Leicester City have self-isolated after showing symptoms of the virus. An undisclosed number of Arsenal players have done the same after the cancellation of their match following contact with Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis, who has tested positive for the virus.
Manchester City star Benjamin Mendy is also under quarantine after a family member was hospitalized.
Meanwhile, other major soccer leagues — including La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A and the MLS — have all suspended their seasons.
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