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Premier League, Champions League call off matches amid coronavirus pandemic

A sign on the gate at Chelsea's Stamford Bridge stadium March 13 in London. The English Premier League is suspended until April 3, and Chelsea's Callum Hudson-Odoi has tested positive for the coronavirus.
(Kirsty Wigglesworth / Associated Press)

The Premier League and the Champions League suspended play Friday as the coronavirus outbreak continues to hammer the sports world.

Matches in England will be stopped until at least April 3 after five Premier League clubs said some players or staff were in self-isolation. Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the virus, as has Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi.

A look at athletes, coaches and others in the sports world who have tested positive of the coronavirus.

“I had the virus for the last couple of days, which I’ve recovered from,” Hudson-Odoi said in a video posted on social media. “I’m following the health guidelines and self-isolating myself from everybody for the week. I hope to see everybody soon and hopefully be back on the pitch very soon. Take care.”

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UEFA said it was stopping next week’s games in all competitions, including the two remaining Champions League matches which had not been already called off — Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea and Barcelona vs. Napoli, both scheduled for Wednesday.

Games involving Juventus and Real Madrid had already been postponed because those clubs quarantined their players.

The decision from UEFA comes four days ahead of a meeting to decide the European soccer calendar, including the possible one-year postponement of the 2020 European Championship.

Eight Europa League games scheduled for Thursday were also postponed. The quarterfinal draws in both the Champions League and Europa League, scheduled for March 20, were postponed as well.

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Earlier Friday, Everton said one of its players had reported symptoms consistent with the coronavirus. Bournemouth later said reserve goalkeeper Artur Boruc and four members of its staff also had symptoms. Leicester said Thursday that three players had “extremely mild illness.”

The suspension in England also covers the Championship, League One, League Two and the top two women’s divisions.

The French league also suspended games Friday. Following earlier suspensions in Italy and Spain, that leaves the German Bundesliga as the only one of Europe’s top-five ranked leagues still playing this weekend.

The German league said Friday it will play upcoming games in empty stadiums and then vote on a suspension from Tuesday until April 2. That would only include one round of games before a scheduled break for international matches.

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That plan was soon thrown into doubt when Bundesliga club Paderborn said coach Steffen Baumgart had been tested for the virus. His team was to play Fortuna Dusseldorf on Friday evening.

In the German second division, two players from Hannover 96 and one from Nuremberg have tested positive for the virus.

Soccer in Scotland was also postponed Friday until further notice, hours before a game was due to start. That measure also affects Sunday’s Old Firm match between Glasgow rivals Rangers and Celtic.

Four places in the 24-nation lineup for Euro 2020 still have to be decided in playoffs scheduled for March 26 and 31. Those playoffs seem unlikely to be played on time.

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The Euro 2020 tournament was expected to be played in 12 host nations. The plan requires teams, fans and officials to travel across the continent — an added risk to spread the virus.


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