Once Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta tested positive for COVID-19, it was only a matter of time.
Fewer than 24 hours after the English Premier League announced it would move ahead with matches this weekend, the league backtracked and announced it would suspend its season indefinitely.
The shareholders unanimously decided to halt play with the intention of returning April 4 and rescheduling missed matches. It impacts the FA Cup, second through fourth divisions and and Women’s Super League as well.
“In this unprecedented situation, we are working closely with our clubs, Government, The FA and EFL and can reassure everyone the health and welfare of players, staff and supporters are our priority,” Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said in a statement.
The league made the decision at an emergency club meeting on Friday that was announced in response to Arteta’s diagnosis, a similar situation to the NBA suspending its season after the positive test of Rudy Gobert.
Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odio also tested positive for the virus, resulting in the entire squad and coaching staff self-isolating.
Mikel Arteta’s coronavirus diagnosis has led to the suspension of Premier League play. (Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
MoreSeveral other players under coronavirus quarantine
Even without Arteta and Hudson-Odoi testing positive, it was worth wondering how the league could possibly go forward with matches this weekend, given how hard the coronavirus has been hitting the soccer world.
Three players on Leicester City had self-isolated after showing symptoms of the virus. An undisclosed number of Arsenal players have done the same after the cancellation of their match following contact with Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis, who has tested positive for the virus. Even more have been isolated after the Arteta news.
Manchester City star Benjamin Mendy is also under quarantine after a family member was hospitalized.
Meanwhile, other major soccer leagues — including La Liga, Ligue 1, Serie A and MLS — have suspended their seasons.
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