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– We feel very sorry for Veton, who feels that he has ruined for everyone. But this could have happened to anyone.
The general manager of Viking FK, Eirik Bjørnø, looks out over an empty lawn. The Viking players should have been in training before this weekend’s away game against Odd. That was not the case.
On Wednesday, it became clear that striker Veton Berisha has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The entire squad has been quarantined. In addition to the Odd match, next weekend’s home match against FK Haugesund is also postponed.
Want a new test regime
– Almost all players and coaches have now been tested. We will receive the answers within the next 24 hours. We take the consequences of this, and will get through it well, says Bjørnø.
The rules in Norwegian football are clear. Although the clubs have strict infection control measures, all close contacts to an infected person must be quarantined for ten days.
– It is not possible to test oneself out of quarantine in Norway. We just have to be patient. If the tests are negative, the players can at least train for themselves.
These are the situations the Norwegian Football Association (NFF) has feared.
– This is regrettable, but not directly unexpected. After the regulations regarding close contacts were changed this summer, it has increased the risk that infection could affect our tournaments, says head of the competition department in NFF, Nils Fisketjønn in a press release.
The association has therefore applied to replace the mandatory ten-day quarantine with extended testing of players, as is done in other leagues in Europe. The application is now being processed by the Norwegian Directorate of Health.
Bjørnø says Viking relates to what the NFF decides.
So does FK Haugesund, who should have met Viking on 25 October. Coach Jostein Grindhaug is in favor of as much testing as possible, but will at the same time maintain the strict infection control regime.
– It is important that football contributes to the charity, in line with the rest of society.
Closer match schedule
NFF will return to when the postponed matches will be played.
Viking hopes and believes that the case will not have sporting consequences for the team, which is in the middle of the table after the 20th round of the series.
The test results decide, but there will still be a very close match program in November and December. It may affect the results.
– The national team break may be used, but it will be cramped. The last round of the series is 19 December. Some here joke that they may not have to go to church on Christmas Eve this year.
Viking, like other elite league teams, introduced strict infection control measures in March. The players have their own dining room, are tested for fever every day, and are not in contact with the administration.
According to the NFF, there is no suspicion of a breach of the protocols in this case.
Infected in the family
Berisha had no symptoms prior to testing, and the result was announced on Wednesday.
The test was done because the player had had close contact with an infected person in his family. That infection became known on Tuesday night, and Berisha did not participate in Wednesday’s training. Now he is in isolation.
– I feel completely fine and without symptoms, but think it is of course very boring that the whole team has to be quarantined due to my positive test, Berisha says in the press release from NFF on Wednesday night.
The striker is more concerned with the consequences for the team, than for his own health.
– The trickiest thing is not that I myself have to be in isolation, but that the team has to be quarantined and thus postpone matches.