Lille (AFP)

A recovery rich in uncertainties: after a season truncated by the coronavirus, Ligue 1 is seeing an increase in contaminations and cancellations of friendly matches as the new financial year approaches. A threat to the health of players as well as to sporting equity between clubs.

With four new positive cases detected Tuesday in Strasbourg, bringing to nine the number of infected players within the Alsatian club, the virus seems to be increasing among French clubs and concern is growing.

"We do not really know where we are going like that. We see cases which are unfortunately popping up everywhere," lamented Christophe Pelissier, Lorient coach on Tuesday. "No one is immune. We are bound to be worried. We may ask everyone to have barrier gestures, to take good care, unfortunately it happens in all clubs."

Strasbourg, which had to cancel three friendly matches, thus sees its preparation cut off from crucial encounters to gauge the level of the team, constrained to very supervised training sessions, which is far from ideal two weeks away. of the new season, August 21.

The Alsatian club is not the only one affected by the coronavirus: Montpellier, which faced the RCSA on July 28 in a friendly at Divonne-les-Bains, announced a positive case, asking the question of a possible source of contamination in the occasion of this meeting.

For its part, Nantes has detected three cases among the players and eight in total within the club. Lille has formalized four positive cases among its workforce.

- To live with -

"We can be very picky in the workplace, but we can not put a leash to guys outside," said Montpellier coach Michel Der Zakarian on Tuesday, added the technician, who deplores that the match of preparation against Marseille on Wednesday was canceled.

In Lille, coach Christophe Galtier had to cancel the training course in Portugal scheduled for this week. He too insists on vigilance instructions.

"We repeat every day to the players to respect barrier gestures, to be careful when they are at home, not to go where there are crowds. The virus is with us and as long as there is no vaccine we will have to live with, "he told AFP on Wednesday.

Living with it means setting a draconian health protocol to allow L1 to restart safely, five months after its early termination due to a pandemic.

Like the other major European leagues, which have set very strict medical conditions for replaying, the Professional Football League (LFP) promises to finalize its own rules as soon as possible for the resumption of L1.

"The LFP is extremely attentive to the medical and health situation," assured the body in a statement sent to AFP. "Established for the resumption of training and preparation matches, the medical protocol must be adjusted this week to communicate to the clubs the last arbitrations for the resumption of the championships."

- "We must adapt" -

There remains the question of sports fairness: the multiplication of cases could generate a two-speed recovery between the clubs affected by the Covid-19 and those which were spared during their preparation. And very quickly the question of the holding of matches will arise if positive cases are detected upstream of these meetings.

"We are not yet at these issues of postponed matches or not," said Arnaud Pouille, general manager of RC Lens, a player of which was also infected.

"We will do what the authorities and the authorities tell us to do. What concerns us is how we are going to be able to accommodate as many people as possible for our meetings at home," he argues, while the question the relaxation of the limit of 5,000 spectators in the stadiums, subject to prefectural exemption, is crucial for the finances of the clubs.

With the Lille neighbor, the position is more clear-cut: "I dare to hope that the matches will not be postponed if a team has cases of Covid in its workforce," said Galtier to AFP. "We have to adapt and integrate that we can (...) have a lot of missing players because of that."

© 2020 AFP