‘The game is turning into a farce’ amid strong disruptions from Covid-19

Men's handball euro upside down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“What’s the value of this game? Handball is a bit of a pity. » France’s goalkeeper Vincent Gérard pushes forward after a 34-24 win over the Netherlands at the start of the Euro 2022 main round on Thursday 20 January “A little rant” To the microphone of BeIN Sports.

Statements from the Paris Saint-Germain players illustrate some of their annoyance when Covid has become a major player in the announced cases of contamination at the game.Dutch media Handball – World News Nearly 110 players have been identified as infected since the 1stUh January.

France has ten cases during preparation

However, France was relatively spared when Vincent Gérard spoke. Only Karl Konan was declared positive after a 29-25 win over Serbia in the preliminaries on Monday, January 16. The Blues think they have eaten their brown bread as 10 cases were recorded during preparations that began on December 26.

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since, “The organization is overtaken by Covid-19”, in the words of coach Guillaume Gill, who himself has been active since Friday, January 21. The next day, Kentin Mahé was out against Iceland. Gille and Mahé were held in solitary confinement for five days in accordance with hygiene protocols.

To escape this isolation, two negative tests within 24 hours are required. That’s not the case with Karl Konan, who remains positive, coach Guillaume Gill announced from his hotel room in Budapest on Sunday.

On Saturday, however, the Blues had fewer positive cases than Iceland. Despite missing eight players, including their star Aaron Palmason and their starting goalkeeper, “Strákarnir okkar” (“our children”) gave the French their biggest defeat in the European Championship (29-21) on Saturday, January 22.

Also read France-Iceland: Icelanders dominate pale blue and complicate their task in the euro zone

delegation forced to tinker

Since the start of the game on January 13, many options have been affected. The Netherlands thus had one last complicated moment: head coach Erlingur Richardsson, who was infected himself, had to retire goalkeeping coach Gerrie Ejilers (41) in the absence of his usual starter and then had to play an emergency. Call Thijs Van Leeuwen (34), a Belgian club amateur and designer of medical prosthetics. Success, the surprising goalkeeper was named the man of the match after the team’s win over Montenegro.

Also read Articles reserved for our subscribers Handball European Cup: France beats Netherlands and remains unbeaten

Germany was the most affected, with nine active players. So much so that handball Bundesliga (HBL) boss Frank Berman estimates, Manshaft Withdrawing from Euro 2022 is not ruled out. “All options must be on the table and openly discussed with all stakeholders”he announced to AFP sports subsidiary SID on Tuesday 18 January. ‘The game is turning into a farce’the rumoured 2007 world champion Christian Schwarzer spoke to the media SPOX.

“We never thought about giving up”Philippe Barna, president of the French Handball Federation, assured him at a press conference on Friday, January 21. “The worst case scenario is that the contamination is so great that it causes the games to be cancelled, but I found it difficult for the European Handball Federation to change its stance because the European Handball Federation started with a small number of players due to Covid. », added Guillaume Gill.

Hygiene conditions raise questions

The spread of the virus seemed inevitable, so many encounters followed. “When we face teams with Covid cases, as was the case with Croatia in the preliminaries, it is difficult to avoid the virus, A coach for the Blues has been appointed. The only solution is to test everyone twice a day and keep hope. »

Organizational conditions are indicated. Slovakia and Hungary do not offer the same hygiene standards. According to WHO data, the country led by Victor Orban has one of the highest death tolls in its population from the pandemic, after Bosnia and Peru, with more than 40,000 deaths, or per million inhabitants About 4,100 people died.

The French and Serbs were particularly moved at the start of the game, brushing past tourists without masks in their hotel in Szeged (Hungary). “We were all stunned, even shocked to see customers not wearing masks, to see us eating in the same place as other customers”detail of Nikolai Karabatic.

The two countries have different standards for the reception of spectators: 100% in Hungary and 25% in Slovakia. Audiences over 12 must show proof of immunization (vaccinated or recovered from Covid-19) or a PCR test less than 72 hours old and wearing a mask involves audiences over 6. But many supporters are often seen at games without masks.

Iceland fans who were mostly not wearing masks during their game against France on Saturday, January 22.

“When the health protocol was in place, it was different, without the Omicron variant, Defend EHF. We have adjusted some parts of the protocol during the game and we will continue to do so as circumstances warrant. »

On Monday 24 January, against Montenegro (8.30pm), France will have to ignore their absentees and hope that Karl Konan can return to the rotation. The usual assistant, Eric Matt, will once again replace Guillaume Gill, who, like Kentin Mahé, is trapped in his own room. “It’s the lottery, twice a day, we interlock our fingers”Vincent Gérard sighed on BeIN Sports.

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