An outbreak of coronavirus among players of Spanish second-division club Fuenlabrada has caused chaos within Spanish football.
The positive results were announced just hours before Monday’s final game of the season, between Deportivo La Coruña and Fuenlabrada, prompting the suspension of the game, which will have a direct influence on the promotion play offs from Segunda to LaLiga.
The match was postponed after a number of Fuenlabrada players tested positive. The entire final round was at risk of being postponed but all of the other matches, which were scheduled to be played at the same time, went on as scheduled.
Some clubs said the decision to suspend only one game instead of the entire round affected the outcome of the competition because many teams depended on the result of the Deportivo-Fuenlabrada match.
Elche, for example, who are currently holding on to the last playoff spot, will only keep it if Fuenlabrada loses to Deportivo who, at the time were still fighting for points to avoid relegation. Now however, following Mondays fixtures, results went against them and confirmed their relegation so they will have nothing to play for when the game is rescheduled.
“Obviously a decision has been made that directly affects the integrity of the competition and we believe that it was not fair,” Elche said in a statement. “A situation like the one experienced today shows the importance of strict compliance with the rules and safety and hygiene measures determined by authorities to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”
Rayo Vallecano had been in a similar position and its chances of promotion depended in part on Fuenlabrada’s result, and they have now threatened legal action against the decision not to postpone all matches.
Deportivo also said they will consider legal options to defend their interests. They said in a statement that the club complied with all health and security measures and was ready to play the match.
The league — along with the Spanish soccer federation and the nation’s sports council — said the decision not to reschedule all matches was “the solution that best protected the health of players and the overall integrity of the competition.”
Deportivo coach Fernando Vázquez said his team’s rivals benefited by being able to play their games.
“They have an advantage because they don’t have the pressure of our result,” Vázquez told Movistar. “Why couldn’t we play all at the same time, without anybody having a competitive advantage?”
Deportivo, the 2000 Spanish league champion, were relegated to the tercera, third division, for only the second time in club history. The first time was in the 1980-81 season. No other league champions have dropped to the third division since Real Betis in 1947.
Fuenlabrada, based just south of Madrid, are trying to reach the top flight for the first time.
The promotion playoffs, which were expected to begin on Thursday, will now also have to be delayed. There was no date set for a new game between Deportivo and Fuenlabrada.
The Spanish league did not say how many Fuenlabrada players or club members tested positive. The club said no one who tested positive showed symptoms of the disease. Spanish media said Fuenlabrada was expected to be held in confinement until everyone tested negative again. The club hosted Elche last week.