A CHINESE football team from the city at the centre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak has been left kicking its heels in Spain’s Sotogrande after its preseason matches were cancelled.
Gibraltar’s Europa Point FC became the latest club to pull out of a game against Chinese Super League team Wuhan Zall.
They were due to play in Estepona on February 3.
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The Chinese team’s new coach Jose Gonzalez – former boss of Malaga – had hoped to put his players through their paces in Spain, but following official advice from the Gibraltar FA, Europa Point cancelled.
Wuhan is the city where the coronavirus outbreak that has now claimed 360 lives started. Nations including the UK and USA have been evacuating their citizens from the Chinese metropolis.
But the football team has not been in the city since January 2, instead training 1,000 kilometres away in Guangzhou.
Club officials say that the incubation period of the virus has long since passed, with none of the team being affected.
The players travelled via Shanghai and Istanbul to arrive at Malaga Airport last Wednesday, with the local health authorities giving them a clean bill of health.
In a statement the Andalusian health service said: “The Wuhan Zall Chinese first division team arrived this morning at Malaga airport from Istanbul and Shanghai, without showing any symptoms related to the virus.”
The health service was taking no chances and sent doctors to meet the team.
“No additional examinations were necessary. The medical team confirmed that none of them showed symptoms,” added the statement.
But despite this, Russian side FK Krasnodar pulled out of a match they were due to play against Wuhan Zall in Spain, with Europa Point soon following suit.
On their Twitter account the Gibraltar Club said: “On request from the @GibraltarFA and our GFLA, Europa Point FC shall not play the training friendly against the Chinese team tomorrow. It may be played by Marbella City, if at all. @LincolnRedImps @ChristianLagura thanks for your kind concerns and suggestions.”
Speaking to the Spanish media on arrival at Malaga Jose Gonzalez emphasised that Wuhan Zall had travelled with a doctor and no player had been sick.
He hoped that the team would be treated sympathetically as many of the players had family in the city.
They are due to remain in Sotogrande until at least February 18. Their home city is in lock-down and the Chinese Super League is indefinitely suspended until the virus crisis is declared over.