Australian soccer league resumes matches despite COVID-19 outbreak

Sydney, Australia, Jul 17 (efe-epa).- The Australian soccer league resumes its season on Friday, after a four-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 epidemic and despite the outbreak in Melbourne.

“The remainder of the Hyundai A-League 2019/20 Season will now see the 27 matches played over 34 days with the Hyundai A-League 2020 Finals Series moved back a week,” Football Federation Australia’s Head of Leagues Greg O’Rourke said in a statement.

The tournament has made changes to rules and protocols due to the novel coronavirus and for the moment public attendance in the stands is not allowed, although they are studying a limited presence at some matches.

The first game will be played Friday night in Sydney between table leader, Sydney FC, and third-ranked New Zealand team Wellington Phoenix.

The championship is contested by 11 teams in a single division, without promotion or relegation, and after the regular season the title is decided in a playoff, in which the six highest placed teams participate.

The league’s grand final will take place on Aug. 30, O’Rourke added in a statement this week.

The league had originally planned to resume the season on Thursday but the resurgence of COVID-19 in Melbourne, which in response put 5 million people in lockdown while state borders were closed, forced some games to be rescheduled.

The three teams from Melbourne, the capital of Victoria state, will start playing when they finish their 14-day quarantine in the neighboring state of New South Wales, according to the new schedule.

On the other hand, the Australian federation is also considering a contingency plan to move its 11 teams to the state of Queensland in the event the coronavirus outbreak worsens in southeast Sydney, New South Wales’ capital and home to almost all the teams.

The COVID-19 situation in Australia also means that Perth Glory will finish the season without their captain, Spaniard Diego Castro, who refused to travel to Sydney due to health security concerns, the club said.

Australia, which has sent some 1,000 soldiers to Melbourne to help with the COVID-19 outbreak, has registered more than 10,800 cases since March, including 113 deaths, of which at least 4,750 have been reported in the southern state of Victoria and 3,527 in New South Wales, two regions that make up more than 55 percent of the country’s 25 million inhabitants. The outbreak in Melbourne has seen more than 2,500 cases since the beginning of the month. EFE-EPA


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