Angelo Ogbonna has attacked the Premier League’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, with the West Ham defender accusing English football’s governing bodies of “ignoring” the potential risk to players.
“It was almost as if they wanted to ignore such a serious problem … [or] almost waiting for someone to die before taking action,” Ogbonna told Italy’s Corriera della Sera newspaper on Friday.
The Italian centre-back said he was “happy and relieved” that the Premier League and EFL had now been suspended, but added that English football’s slow response reflected wider attitudes in the UK.
“It’s not just football, but this problem is ingrained in the English mentality. They still don’t realise the danger of a virus that can be passed on in seconds,” Ogbonna said. “I haven’t been tested or checked over in any way. [There is] an attitude that is superficial, at the very least.”
Ogbonna also condemned the decision to allow West Ham’s away game at Arsenal to go ahead. “It’s completely unacceptable,” the 31-year-old said. “They had just played against Olympiakos, whose president [Evangelos Marinakis] tested positive for coronavirus.”
Marinakis announced his positive test on 10 March, three days after West Ham’s 1-0 defeat at the Emirates Stadium. Arsenal have not played again since, with players and staff entering self-isolation on 11 March.
Ogbonna’s comments come as the number of Serie A footballers testing positive for Covid-19 continues to rise. Fiorentina forward Patrick Cutrone, who is on loan at the club from Wolves, is one of three players at the club to receive a positive test result since Friday.
The Italy forward was tested along with Argentinian defender Germán Pezzella and club physiotherapist Stefano Dainelli. All three men were showing symptoms of the virus, and their tests came back positive – but they are all “in good health,” the club added. Dusan Vlahovic also tested positive on Friday, with the Serbian striker in self-isolation and not displaying any symptoms.
Juventus defender Daniele Rugani tested positive on Thursday, along with the former Southampton forward Manolo Gabbiadini. Four of his Sampdoria teammates – defender Omar Colley, midfielders Albin Ekdal and Morten Thorsby, and forward Antonino La Gumina, were announced as testing positive on Friday.