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False start: Football's return in Ukraine suffers setback as team bus turns back during 2,600km trip after Covid-19 test results

False start: Football's return in Ukraine suffers setback as team bus turns back during 2,600km trip after Covid-19 test results
A match has been called off on the opening weekend of the restart of the Ukrainian Premier League after Karpaty Lviv discovered that several of their players had tested positive for Covid-19 the day before they were due to play.

Troubled Karpaty, who were forced to release two international players earlier this month due to financial difficulties, had been the last club to carry out checks for the coronavirus after struggling to fund fortnightly tests that have been made mandatory as part of the return of top-level football in Ukraine.

Directors breathed a sigh of relief when a medical center stepped in to agree a partnership with the club that allowed them to access testing, only receiving the positive results after opponents Mariupol had already set off on their round trip of more than 2,600km for Sunday’s match.

The eighth-placed visitors' bus had stopped in Kiev when they learned that the match was off and their opponents would be entering isolation as a result of the entire squad potentially being exposed to the infected players during training sessions this week.

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The Carpathians have insisted that the affected players are asymptomatic and have not been hospitalized.

“We are working according to the protocols,” said executive director Rostislav Yashchyshyn, calling on the media to avoid “inflating the situation with fabrications and unverified information.”

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Karpaty are five points short of safety in the division’s only relegation spot but had been hoping to claw their way clear of danger despite asking the league to resume fixtures a week later than agreed.

Yashchyshyn said the club remained “in constant contact” with the Ukrainian Football Association and Premier League and would be carrying out more tests on Monday. The division restarted for the first time since March 15 on Saturday as Desna won 2-0 at Kolos.

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