Portugal and Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo was said to be “fine and sunbathing” on Tuesday after testing positive for coronavirus which has ruled him out of a midweek Nations League fixture with his country.
Ronaldo “is asymptomatic” and “will not play against Sweden” in Wednesday’s Nations League match, the Portuguese federation said on its website.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner played in Portugal’s goalless Nations League draw against France in Paris on Sunday.
The federation added that the rest of the Portugal squad were “all negative” after tests on Tuesday morning, as was the France squad, according to the French Football Federation.
“We have respected all the health measures…and yet it happened,” Portugal coach Fernando Santos told a press conference. “We have been doing tests every day.”
Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini said he had spoken to Ronaldo.
“He’s fine and was sunbathing, he’ll be back when he’s ready,” he reported.
The 35-year-old striker has scored 101 goals for Portugal and will be a huge absence for his team against Sweden as they aim to hold on to top spot in their group.
His contracting the disease is also a blow for Juventus, as the health protocol in force for Serie A says Ronaldo must self-isolate for 10 days and then record a negative test before he can resume playing.
That means Ronaldo will miss Juve’s Serie A match at Crotone on Saturday and their opening Champions League group stage game at Dynamo Kiev in a week’s time.
He also risks missing Juve’s Champions League clash with Barcelona on 28 October, which was set to pit Ronaldo against his old rival Lionel Messi.
Chiellini said “we footballers know we take risks, and we are ready to take them, trying to minimise them as much as possible with all the necessary precautions.
“We must move forward because we know that football is important economically, and for the social value. In the coming weeks there will be other closures, and I believe football is important to people.
“The real victory is to finish the season, the result is secondary.”
He added: “We cannot stop. We are not worried, but clearly we often talk about it among ourselves with the awareness of what lies ahead.”
Ronaldo’s test result re-opens the controversy over his departure from Turin for the Portugal training camp, which was, according to local health authorities in Italy’s Piedmont region, a violation of the virus protocol.
Ronaldo and other Juventus stars left to join up with their national teams despite the Italian champions’ squad being in isolation after two staff members tested positive for the virus.
Roberto Testi, a director of the regional health authority, said that local prosecutors had been informed of the players’ unauthorised departure.
Ronaldo, who has also starred for Manchester United and Real Madrid, is the latest high-profile footballer to test positive for Covid-19, which has killed over a million people since the start of the pandemic earlier this year.
Brazil forward Neymar, his Paris Saint-Germain teammate Kylian Mbappe and AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic have also tested positive for the virus in recent weeks.
Premier League champions Liverpool placed Senegalese forward Sadio Mane and Spanish midfielder Thiago Alcantara in isolation after they tested positive last week.
Also last week, two of Ronaldo’s Portugal teammates — goalkeeper Anthony Lopes and defender Jose Fonte — returned positive tests, forcing them out of the Nations League fixtures.
The international break has been marked by a host of players contracting the virus as it continues its spread worldwide.
The Republic of Ireland had five players ruled out just before their Nations League draw with Wales after one squad member tested positive for the virus.
Meanwhile Ukraine had to draft in 45-year-old assistant coach Oleksandr Shovkovsky for last week’s 7-1 friendly defeat in France as the virus swept through the squad.
Ukraine also lost 2-1 to Germany on Saturday in the Nations League with 14 players missing either through injury or positive for the virus.
Coronavirus has killed over one million people and infected over 37 million. Many nations that suppressed their first outbreaks are now battling a second wave/AFP.