Covid-19, Cristiano Ronaldo, and the Risks of International Soccer
Not many aspects of Cristiano Ronaldo’s life go undocumented, so it was no surprise earlier this week when he interrupted his meal with the Portuguese national team for a photo op. He stood up at one end of the packed table, turned his phone on the two dozen players, and blasted out a group selfie to his 88 million followers on Twitter.
“United on and off the field,” read the caption.
Less than 24 hours later, Ronaldo was out of the squad and in isolation, the Portuguese soccer federation announced on Tuesday. He had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Ronaldo wasn’t the only one to report for national-team duty and go home with more than some extra frequent-flier miles. The past week has brought a steady drumbeat of positive tests in international soccer, underlining the risks of having hundreds of players from Europe’s coronavirus hot spots leave their clubs to jet around the world for two weeks before returning home.
International breaks since late August alone have seen France, Greece, Scotland, Switzerland, Ukraine, Cameroon, Guinea, and Peru all lose players to sudden quarantine. Ronaldo, who is now likely to miss games for his club Juventus, just happens to be the highest profile case in the sport—and one of the most famous people on the planet.