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Spanish FA blasts 'unpatriotic' La Liga over coronavirus testing

Gab Marcotti explains why postponing the Euros was UEFA's only reasonable option, despite a big financial hit.

Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales has labelled La Liga "irresponsible and totally unpatriotic" for testing players for coronavirus, and said it shows "a lack of solidarity."

Rubiales said the tests should be used on others that are clearly more at risk if they have the coronavirus.

La Liga reportedly hired a medical service to include 500 coronavirus tests before the government called a state of emergency in the country on Saturday.

Rubiales said players that don't experience severe symptoms have no need to be tested. Spain has been in lockdown since Saturday.

"It seems irresponsible and out of place, that having patients and knowing that the lives of many people are at stake, tests are being used in the first division squads, when there are people who need them," Rubiales said.

"It's a lack of knowing the reality of the situation. We are confined, our government has told us to remain at home so it doesn't matter whether you have the virus or not.

"Because the result -- for that footballer -- is the same. If you test positive and do not have severe symptoms, you will continue to be confined at home; if you have severe symptoms, that is the person who needs a test. A footballer doesn't need it."

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Spain is the second-worst hit European country by the outbreak behind Italy with 558 deaths and almost 14,000 cases as of March 18. Rubiales urged clubs to help the authorities.

"I ask please that all those [clubs] that have masks, tests or gloves to make them available to the administration," Rubiales said. "Taking the tests, from our point of view is even illegal, can be punished. We find it a lack of solidarity, totally unpatriotic. The RFEF does not agree, on the contrary."

Real Valladolid announced on Wednesday that they formally rejected the league's offer of coronavirus test kits for their players on ethical and medical grounds.

"La Liga offered them to us [the tests], but we have not taken them for medical and social reasons," club spokesman David Espinar said in a statement.

"No player has presented any symptoms and we believe that there are people out there who are much less well off than we are who need them far more than we do. It is those [people] who should have priority."

Espanyol had previously announced that six members of their first team and staff had contracted the virus following tests. They revealed that all the positive cases were experiencing "mild symptoms."

Valencia, who played in the Champions League against Atalanta in Milan on Feb. 19, are the most affected La Liga club with more than one third of the team and staff infected by the coronavirus although all cases are "asymptomatic."

La Liga side Alaves said on Wednesday that the club had 15 positive cases.

When asked by Spanish outlet Marca on Valladolid's decision, La Liga president Javier Tebas said he didn't want to get drawn into a debate.

"I'd rather not get into that. Some of the things that have been said have surprised me, but right now I'd rather abstain from as to why people haven't wanted the testing kits," Tebas said. 

Tebas also said that European leagues should be able to restart by mid-May and the season can be completed now the European Championship has been postponed until 2021 due to coronavirus.

"In mid-May we should be able to be back on with all European competitions. All of them. Of course, it depends on how the pandemic evolves.

"It could even be before then, but this is the date that we are working on as a latest in order to start up again."

Regarding whether matches will be played behind closed doors, he added: "All depends on the health authorities in each individual country. We are talking about the schedules of more than 30 league seasons. It all has to be done together."

Information from Reuters was included in this report.

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