BARCELONA (Reuters) - La Liga president Javier Tebas has warned players they could be made to attend closed training camps if the league’s protocol on social gatherings is not adhered to after Barcelona defender Nelson Semedo became the latest player to flout the rules.
Semedo was caught on Spanish television at a gathering of more than 20 people on Monday, with Barca saying on their website he did not train on Thursday due to the league’s protocol, which provides strict rules on players’ activities.
Tebas said Semedo would have to test negative for COVID-19 before he was allowed to be named in the squad for Barca’s match away to Real Mallorca on Saturday, their first since the season was halted in March due to the pandemic.
Four Sevilla players flouted the rules last month by attending a large gathering where social distancing was not observed and Tebas said if the problem persisted the league might have to take action.
The league had initially proposed keeping squads in training camps when matches returned but dropped the demand after protests from the players’ union.
“If players keep breaking the rules we’ll have to consider having obligatory training camps. We hope it doesn’t come to that but if people keep going to barbecues and parties we might have to,” Tebas told reporters on a conference call on Thursday.
“We wanted to do this a few weeks ago but we saw that players were complying with the protocols. But if we start to see three or four players at each club disobeying these rules then we’ll have no other remedy.”
Spain has been one of the hardest hit countries by the pandemic, which has claimed more than 27,000 lives and crippled the economy. Tebas said players needed to show more responsibility.
“We all have a responsibility to keep this industry going and taking any step back carries big risks. I call on all the clubs to tell their players to please comply with the rules because anyone who breaks the rules damages us all,” he added.
“La Liga has shown a lot of faith in the players by not enforcing the closed camps so please, return that confidence and do not break it. Flouting the rules not only harms La Liga, it also harms people’s health in general.”
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge