France's first fixture of the new Ligue 1 football season looks to get postponed after the Olympique de Marseille mentioned on Tuesday they had confirmed three more cases of the coronavirus or COVID-19, taking the total at the club to four.
The LFP, French professional football's governing body, told the teams last week it had set up a 'COVID-19 committee' to advise on whether to delay the matches. When a club confirms more than three coronavirus cases postponement is likely, based on the 'COVID-19 protocol' the LFP sent out to the teams.
TV channel BFM and sports daily L'Equipe reported that the decision to postpone the match, the only fixture set for this Friday evening, had already been taken. LFP was not immediately available for comment.
COVID-19 in Ligue 1
Among the "Big Five" European soccer nations, France was the only one to end its season prematurely due to the pandemic. Paris St Germain were awarded the Ligue 1 title. The Parisian club and Olympique Lyonnais have reached the semi-finals of the reformatted Champions League, the first time that two French teams will compete at that level. Olympique Marseille is France's only winner of the biggest prize in European football.
Almost 40 players from 11 Ligue 1 clubs out of 20 have tested positive for COVID-19, including some at Saint-Etienne, Marseille's opponent on Friday night.
Spain's Mediapro, majority-owned by Chinese private equity fund Orient Hontai, holds the rights to air the top Ligue 1 matches for the 2020/2021 to 2023/2024 seasons. In early June, it said it had agreed with TF1, France's biggest private TV operator, to form a new soccer channel to air top Ligue 1 league matches within the country.
(With agency inputs)