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  • Two soccer teams at a closed-door match in Guayaquil, Ecuador, February 20, 2020.

    Two soccer teams at a closed-door match in Guayaquil, Ecuador, February 20, 2020. | Photo: EFE

Published 1 September 2020
Opinion

Midfielder Sergio Lopez broke health protocols brought in to combat the coronavirus.

Argentine midfielder Sergio Lopez Monday became the first player worldwide to face sanction for kissing a soccer ball and thus breaking rules to prevent COVID-19.

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During the fifth day of fixtures, the player of the Quito-based Aucas in Ecuador’s top competition Liga Pro infringed health norms that have been introduced for league games.

The tournament resumed two weeks ago, after a five-month hiatus due to the pandemic. On August 16, the league's disciplinary committee cautioned five players for exchanging jerseys with rivals.

Also, two teams were sanctioned for non-compliance with biosecurity measures. Liga de Portoviejo was fined for not providing a first aid kit and Barcelona, one of the country's most important teams, was reprehended for not providing alcohol for hand disinfection.

The main soccer federations in the world have adopted similar preventive measures, aiming to continue the tournaments safely.

Europe was the first continent to hold closed-door matches and apply PCR tests to all players on a regular basis. New rules involve disinfected balls, mandatory COVID-19 tests, elbow bumps, and empty seats.

Also, there is less hugging in goal celebrations now, and everyone not on the pitch had to wear a face mask, except for the head coaches, who need to shout instructions to the players.

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