Chinese Super League side Wuhan Zall’s preseason plans in Spain have been left in ruins by the coronavirus, with European teams refusing to play them.
The refusal has come despite the fact that the team have been nowhere near Wuhan, the city at the epicentre of the deadly virus, for several weeks.
Instead, they have been training in Guangzhou since January 2 with their new coach, Jose Gonzalez.
Last week they travelled to southern Spain via Istanbul and Shanghai. The team were cleared on arrival at Malaga Airport on Wednesday by local health authorities as showing no symptoms of the virus.
Gonzalez spoke to the Spanish media at the aiport
“We all understand the social alarm that the name Wuhan can generate but I want to stress that the players were grouped together 1,000km from
“Since day three the incubation period is more than over. We have a doctor in the team who travels with the team who has certified to the Spanish health authorities that there have been no symptoms of possible infection in any player. There has been no sick player.
“So it’s good to try to transmit a certain calmness – that I understand is difficult.
“These are people who have come to carry out their professional work. In many cases they have families in the area [Wuhan] and I hope that in Spain they will find a little empathy.”
Those hopes seem to have fallen on deaf ears, however. Russian side FK Krasnodar cancelled a game scheduled for Tuesday, while Gibraltar’s Europa Point FC cancelled last night’s friendly in Estepona.
The Chinese team are staying in Sotogrande, where they will remain until at least February 18. Wuhan is locked down and the Chinese Super League is indefinitely suspended.
The empathy that Gonzalez was hoping for seems to have evaporated.