The Associated Press
Christopher Jullien of Celtic during the Europa League Group E soccer match against Lazio at Celtic Park Stadium in Glasgow, Scotland, on October 24, 2019. (Scott Heppell / AP)
GLASGOW, SCOTLAND –
Celtic will have to forego 14 players against Hibernian on Monday after defender Christopher Jullien tested positive for the coronavirus after the squad returned from a training camp in Dubai.
Thirteen of Jullien’s teammates are considered close contacts and also need to be isolated, said the defending champion.
The Celtic manager Neil Lennon and his assistant John Kennedy will also be absent because they came into contact with Jullien.
The runner-up Celtic promised to deliver on his game against Hibs despite the spate of absenteeism. The team was 22 points behind rival Rangers in the overall standings. Celtic has four games in hand.
Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon has questioned the purpose of Celtic’s trip to Dubai and whether social distancing measures have been taken following the release of photos from the training base.
The Scottish government announced on January 3rd that travelers from Dubai arriving from early January 4th must be quarantined. Celtic’s squad returned four days later.
« As we have already noticed, Celtic’s decision to travel to Dubai for a training camp was due to performance reasons, » said the club. « While we were in Dubai, the January 4th announcements changed the COVID landscape significantly.
« The reality is that if the team had stayed in Scotland, one case could have happened, as other cases in Scottish football and all of British sport have done over the past week. »
Minutes before the announcement of Celtic, the Scottish Football Association announced that the professional game between the top two divisions had been suspended for three weeks due to an escalation in coronavirus cases in the country.
The ban applies to the men’s leagues below the championship, the two leading women’s leagues and the men’s Scottish Cup.
The Scottish Federation said the premiership is exempt from suspension « provided it continues to adhere to rigorous testing protocols. »
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