French football season start reshuffled due to Marseille virus cases
The French football league (LFP) on Tuesday reshuffled the opening weekend of Ligue 1 after the game scheduled to kick off the season was postponed following three more positive coronavirus tests at Marseille.
Marseille were due to play Saint-Etienne on Friday evening in the first game shown by the league's new broadcast partner Mediapro on its specially created pay channel, Telefoot.
The LFP filled the Friday evening slot by bringing forward the game between Bordeaux and Nantes, initially scheduled for Saturday. It will be the first league match in France since March 8.
The LFP said the postponed Marseille match was to be played on either September 16 or 17 "subject to changes in sanitary conditions within the Olympique de Marseille club".
The three fresh coronavirus cases took the total at Marseille to four, and the club said on Tuesday that all details had been relayed to the LFP. The LFP guidelines say that four cases mean the virus is "widespread" at a club.
Regional daily La Provence reported that the three positive tests announced on Tuesday were from goalkeeper Steve Mandanda and midfielders Maxime Lopez and Valentin Rongier, names that the club would neither confirm nor deny to AFP, citing medical confidentiality.
The earlier positive reportedly came from defender Jordan Amavi, who also hinted that was the case on social media.
Andre Villas-Boas' side cancelled a friendly on August 14 against Stuttgart of Germany as a precaution.
Fellow Ligue 1 side Nimes announced two new suspected cases in its squad and all employees have been put in isolation pending test results.
Nimes had hosted Marseille on August 9 in a friendly. They are due to host Brest on Sunday in the first round of Ligue 1 matches.
Some 40 players from 11 clubs have tested positive for COVID-19 in recent weeks.
The vast majority contracted the virus after resuming training in June, leading to quarantine and a flurry of cancelled pre-season matches.
Two matches slated for this weekend -- Paris Saint-Germain against Metz and Montpellier against Lyon -- had already been postponed because PSG and Lyon are playing Champions League semi-finals in Portugal.
Because of the health crisis, stadium capacity has been capped at 5,000 though fan groups at several clubs said the rules mean they will not go to matches.
Similarly, the collective of PSG ultras, the club's main fan group, said on social media that they will not hold an event on Tuesday evening, when their club plays Leipzig in the semi-final of the Champions League behind closed doors in Lisbon.
"We have not found any place that can accommodate our fervour while respecting the sanitary conditions," they posted.
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