BERLIN — Cologne has called midfielder Birger Verstraete to account for an interview he gave in which he criticized the club for its handing of three positive cases of the coronavirus.
The Bundesliga side said Sunday that Verstraete had given a false impression about training safety measures at the club in an interview Saturday with Belgian TV station VTM. It said it was abiding by the league’s medical advice and that all players would be tested again before training can resume Monday.
In a statement on the club website, Verstraete said, “Instead of giving an interview out of emotion, I should have contacted our doctor and had my questions answered. It was not my intention to blame the responsible authorities or FC Cologne.”
Verstraete had told VTM in an interview Saturday that two players and a physiotherapist were confirmed with COVID-19 and that he was finding it hard to focus on soccer, especially as his girlfriend is at high risk due to a previous heart condition.
“I want everyone to be healthy before we play soccer again,” Verstraete said.
The players had been training in small groups, but that hadn’t eased Verstraete’s concerns.
“We train in two groups and you know that the boys were extremely close to me,” Verstraete told VTM. “The test was done on Thursday around 4pm and before that we had been together constantly from 9am to 3pm. We did fitness