Salomon Kalou has been suspended “with immediate effect” by his club Hertha Berlin after posting a video on Facebook of him breaking physical distancing rules with his teammates.
The club and the German football league reacted angrily to the clip, in which the former Chelsea forward was seen shaking hands with teammates and interrupting a medical checkup of another Hertha player.
Kalou has since deleted the video but Hertha released a statement on Monday afternoon saying: “With this video taken inside the team’s dressing room, Kalou broke clear internal rules and displayed a behaviour which is neither appropriate for this current situation nor reflective of the code of conduct of Hertha BSC. The club has therefore made the decision to suspend the player in question from training and matches with immediate effect.”
The German football league (DFL) tweeted its displeasure with the video, saying: “The pictures from Salomon Kalou from the changing room of Hertha are completely unacceptable. There cannot be any tolerance for this, also with regard to the players and clubs who are adhering to the guidelines, because they have grasped the seriousness of the situation.”
The two top divisions in Germany, which have been suspended because of the coronavirus outbreak, have been working towards resuming in May but Kalou’s video may lead to a backlash.
Kalou said: “I’m sorry if I gave the impression that I’m not taking coronavirus seriously. I want to apologise for this. The reality is the exact opposite, because I’m really worried about the people of Africa, because health systems aren’t as good there as they are in Germany. I didn’t really think it through, and was excited that my tests came back negative. I would also like to apologise to all those, who appeared in the video, who didn’t know that I was broadcasting live and whom I didn’t want to bring into this situation.”
DFL also said on Monday there were 10 positive tests for the coronavirus among 36 clubs in the Bundesliga and second division, adding that 1,724 tests for Covid-19 were carried out over two rounds among players and staff.
Cologne previously reported three positive cases, while second-division Stuttgart had reported one inconclusive result. The tests were part of the DFLs hygiene concept, which says teams will also undertake a a mandatory training camp under quarantine conditions before a return to playing.
Testing will continue regardless of whether competitive games restart or not. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, and 16 state governors have postponed a decision until Wednesday on whether the Bundesliga can resume without fans present. German clubs are committed to finishing the season by the end of June.