Sevilla players Lucas Ocampos, Franco Vazquez, Luuk de Jong and Ever Banega have issued apologies after breaking quarantine rules designed to help get professional football in Spain back up and running.
Play has been suspended in La Liga since March due to the coronavirus outbreak in the country, which has thus far infected over 280,000 people and led to more than 28,000 deaths - currently the highest per capita in major nations.
Nevertheless, the 2019-20 La Liga season is set be completed, with June 8 previously confirmed as the date the game will restart amid tight lockdown restrictions for players that were designed to help the country get moving again.
The actions of the four players, which were discovered as Banega’s wife shared then deleted images of a Saturday party including the four players on social media, have thrown that plan into jeopardy.
Government restrictions have limited gatherings in homes to 10 people or less, but the images showed a party with more than that amount present.
La Liga protocol also recommends that players only leave their homes to train and for essential reasons.
While players have previously railed against suggestions that they might be forced to be put into lockdown camps in order to preserve their social bubbles and prevent the spread of any infection, Ocampos, Vazquez, De Jong and Benega’s actions have brought that topic to the fore once again.
The players have, however, repented on social media.
“I want to apologise for what happened yesterday,” Banega said. “It was a gathering of family and friends, but unconsciously we were not correct. For this we want to ask forgiveness from our club, our fans and from society in general. It won’t happen again. All we want is to return to playing as soon as possible.”
Ocamps’ posted on Instagram: “I want to ask for forgiveness and I recognise that we’ve made a mistake, damaging the image of the club. For this we can only apologise to the club, all our team-mates, the technical staff and society in general. We guarantee that we’ve learned our lesson and won’t repeat these actions.”
His thoughts were echoed by Vazquez, who said: “With respect to what happened yesterday, we recognise that it was a mistake and we want to apologise. We’ve let down everyone: team-mates, coaching staff, the club and La Liga, but we’ve learned our lesson. We won’t do it again and we hope football can return soon.”
De Jong, meanwhile, stated: “I would like to say sorry to everyone that was offended due to what occurred yesterday, which will not be repeated. We want competition to return. We only wish to come back and play.”