Juventus Player Tests positive for Coronavirus

Juventus player Daniele Rugani during a training session at JTC on March 10, 2020 in Turin, Italy.

A player for Juventus, the Italian soccer champion, has tested positive for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, the club announced Wednesday, a worrisome development for a sport — and a country — struggling to contain the outbreak.

The player, the 25-year-old defender Daniele Rugani, is believed to be the first athlete in Italy’s top division to test positive. The team said in a statement that Rugani was “currently asymptomatic,” but that the club was following isolation procedures required by law for him and anyone who has had contact with him.

Rugani is not the first player in Europe to test positive for the disease — a German team, Hannover 96, confirmed earlier on Wednesday that one of its players had tested positive and was in isolation — but the implications for Juventus, and for European soccer, could be far more severe.

Rugani was on the bench when Juventus played its title rival, Internazionale of Milan, behind closed doors on Sunday, and his diagnosis means he, his teammates, his coaches and assorted staff members must be quarantined for 14 days. That will most likely make it impossible for Juventus to play its Champions League match against the French club Lyon on Tuesday, and the news could lead to a quarantine for Inter’s players and coaches as well.

The Italian soccer season was already in jeopardy. While Juventus was to be allowed to play its Champions League match without spectators, Italy has banned all domestic sports events until April 3, and the entire country is on a broad lockdown — with travel between regions restricted, and commerce and daily life disrupted. Italy is among the countries worst hit by the coronavirus, with more than 12,000 confirmed cases and more than 800 deaths.

Rugani’s diagnosis is likely to have ripple effects on even more teams; opponents who played against Juventus in recent weeks have already been notified. Rugani played against Brescia on Feb. 16 and Spal on Feb. 22, and was an unused substitute in the first game against Lyon in the Champions League and in Sunday’s match against Inter.

Inter’s Europa League game this week with Spain’s Getafe had already been postponed after the Spanish authorities barred the Italian team from entering the country. In England, Manchester City’s Premier League game against Arsenal was called off after Evangelos Marinakis, the owner of Greek team Olympiacos, which played Arsenal late last month, confirmed he had the virus.
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