Five Red Star players test positive for Covid-19 days after 18,000 fans attend Proleter clash

Red Star Belgrade celebrate 2019-20 title
Less than a fortnight after playing their cross-city rivals in front of around 25,000 fans, the Serbian champions have confirmed multiple cases

Five Red Star Belgrade players have tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus in the wake of their SuperLiga title triumph in front of several five-figure crowds, the club has confirmed.

The Serbian champions confirmed the news less than a fortnight after they faced cross-city rivals FK Partizan in their Serbian Cup semi-final defeat, with around 25,000 fans in attendance.

Marko Gobeljic, Njegos Petrovic, Dusan Jovancic, Marko Konatar and Branko Jovicic have all subsequently come back with affirmative results for the illness, with all but the latter having been left out of the club's final game of the season against Proleter on Saturday.

As such, all five players will be forced to wait to receive their SuperLiga winners' medals, with the club confirming that they will be presented to them at a later date.

"The aforementioned players are feeling well, and are in strict isolation as well as constant contact with the club's medical team," read an official Red Star statement. "The condition of the players is being carefully monitored and a new test will be performed before the start of the preparations for next season."

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The club further stressed that they had taken the requisite precautionary measures and that there were no other reported cases at present, adding: "It is important to point out that all other players, management and staff who were in direct contact with the first team have received a negative result. Red Star is taking all necessary protection measures and we will continue to do so."

The news is likely to bring the Serbian government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic under scruitny after they eased lockdown restrictions earlier this month to allow large crowds back into sporting events across the nation.

With most other major sporting leagues across Europe returning to action firmly behind closed doors, the decision to allow several thousand fans - many of whom are thought to have not followed further recommendations - has already drawn criticism from neighbours Montenegro, who believe that the return of crowds has led to a second wave of infections across the country, due to supporters crossing the border in order attend matches.