The last few weeks of the German Bundesliga season were thrown into chaos on Thursday night as a coronavirus outbreak at Hertha Berlin forced the capital club into a two-week quarantine.
Relegation-threatened Hertha said that they had requested the postponement of their next three games after defender Marvin Plattenhardt became the fourth member of playing and coaching staff to test positive in a single day.
“As a result of the cases, we are forced to go into a 14-day quarantine at home,” sporting director Arne Friedrich said in a statement.
“That is the right step from a health perspective, but it is obviously a blow from a sporting perspective,” he added.
After coach Pal Dardai, assistant coach Admir Hamzagic and Belgium striker Dodi Lukebakio returned positive tests on Thursday morning, Hertha had initially planned to isolate together as a team in a local hotel, leaving only for training and matches.
Yet that idea was torpedoed by the latest positive test, with local health authorities imposing what Hertha called “stricter measures”.
The two-week quarantine period also covers a round of midweek fixtures, meaning Hertha will have to reschedule their away Bundesliga match at Mainz on Sunday, the home game againt Freiburg next Wednesday and the visit to bottom side Schalke on April 24.
Friedrich said the team would hold “virtual training sessions” at home in a bid to stay fit for the rest of the relegation fight.
Yet the outbreak also provides the Bundesliga with a scheduling headache, with the German Football League (DFL) under pressure to complete the season by the end of May before players leave for the European Championships in the summer.
Similar outbreaks had already plunged the second division into chaos this month, with three clubs currently unable to play in self-isolation.