After the postponement of the Ligue 2 match against AS Nancy-Lorraine last Saturday, the meeting scheduled for October 31 against Niort at the René Gaillard stadium is in turn postponed. The GF38 workforce is suffering the full brunt of the epidemic: 10 new players have tested positive for Covid-19.
On its official website, the Grenoble football club had already shown the October 31 match against Chamois Niortais. But this Tuesday, October 27, the announced program is replaced by the press release from the Professional Football League:
“After the opinion of the national COVID FFF commission, noting the certain absence of more than 10 players on the list of 30 of Grenoble Foot 38, due to positive RT-PCR test, the LFP Competitions commission, under the ‘Article 18.104.22.168 of the health protocol for the organization of matches for the 2020.21 season decided to postpone the match against Niort, counting for the 9th day of League 2 BKT, to a later date “.
The League’s medical protocol stipulates that a match can be postponed if a club does not have a minimum of 20 players, including a goalkeeper, tested negative on the list of 30 players declared to the LFP.
This is not quite a surprise, after the postponement, still not rescheduled for the rest, last Saturday of the match against AS Nancy-Lorraine. Grenoble had, at that time, 13 players who tested positive.
The club, so far relatively spared, is now suffering the full brunt of the second wave of the coronavirus. On October 1, nine cases had already been declared positive, including five players but also members of the staff.
This Tuesday morning, the staff waited until the end of training to officially announce to them that no one would go to the field this weekend “so that they stay focused and remain psychologically ready to play “.
But in training, the atmosphere is necessarily special, three-quarters of the workforce are missing. Fortunately, among the players affected, no one developed a particularly severe form of the disease “even if some still had a bad time “ but all are well and are in solitary confinement.
On the club website, the shop has been closed for a long time, the ticket office too. The 1,000-person gauge authorized in the stadium allows only subscribers or partners to enter.
In training, too, the rules have changed. To avoid the overcrowded locker rooms, it is outside, before entering the lawn, that they must change.
Contacts with supporters have disappeared from everyday life, meetings with journalists are carried out within the strict framework of the rules of distancing, and the tests are taken weekly, or even twice a week on certain occasions. “ It is always a little difficult to get used to it “, admits one of the players, Esteban Salles, goalkeeper, “but hey, playing football is our job, we have to comply “.
Impossible, however, to run with a mask, which stifles the breath with each action. The lawn is not the most delicate moment for the risk of contamination. The circulation of the virus is ultimately more difficult to target, in all the other sites of the daily life of the club, in the locker rooms, or when training is over. So, within the GF38, as in all the other clubs in France, a Covid referent has been appointed, whose mission is to “keep watch”, and “to assist”.
His mission ? Liaise with the Federation, ensure compliance with protocols, schedule tests, supervise results, avoid possible releases, even if the players “are aware and responsible and take care of each other (…) it is not during the phases of play, on the field, where they are at respectable distances, that the risk of contamination is the most important”, emphasizes Augustin Douillet, the club’s referent, “It is rather in everyday life, outside, that it is more worrying, and the resurgence of positive cases within the club ultimately corresponds to the reality of contaminations on the rise throughout the department”.
In total, three matches in recent days have been postponed in the professional championship, after Lens-Nantes in Ligue 1, initially scheduled for Sunday (1:00 p.m.), but postponed because of an avalanche of cases affecting the Blood and Gold workforce. A situation which also makes the holding of Marseille-Lens on Friday (9:00 p.m.) uncertain.
Before these three cases, French football had not experienced a postponement since the implementation of the protocol currently in force, at the beginning of September.