LISBON (Reuters) - The Portuguese government will “assess the risk” of re-starting football this month if there are a large number of COVID-19 cases among players, a health official said on Sunday after three players at top-flight Vitoria Guimaraes tested positive.
The Lusa news agency later reported that three players plus two members of staff at Famalicao, another first division club, has also tested positive but said that the club would not confirm the results, citing confidentiality.
The Primeira Liga, suspended since mid-March, is set to re-start on May 30 and teams began training last week. The second division has been called off.
“It’s a very complex situation to reconcile the return of football with health and safety regulations,” the head of Portugal’s DGS health directorate Graca Fretes told reporters.
“If the tests carried out by the teams indicate a high number of positive results, a specific risk assessment will have to be considered by local, regional and national health authorities,” she said.
“The rules will be followed, we will wait for the results and then we will assess the risks”,
Guimaraes said in a statement that three players, who it did not identify, had tested positive during routine tests.
The club said that the three players were asymptomatic and had been advised by the club to self-isolate, while the rest of the squad would continue to carry out individual training after returning to work last week.
This was in contrast to an incident in Germany on Saturday where the entire squad of German second-tier club Dynamo Dresden were placed into a two-week quarantine on the orders of the local health authorities following two positive coronavirus tests.
Meanwhile, Vitoria Setubal said that all of the club’s players and staff had given negative results in a second round of testing.
“No player, coach or member of staff has been found to be infected, meaning that the first stage of training has been successfully completed,” the club said in a statement.
“That means that the squad can enter a new phase of work and begin collective training sessions right away on Monday.”
Reporting by Richard Martin and Brian Homewood, Editing by Christian Radnedge and Pritha Sarkar