Celtic and Aberdeen matches postponed after quarantine breaches - SPFL

FILE PHOTO: Boli Bolingoli-Mbombo of Club Brugge celebrates his goal against Besiktas during their Europa League round of 16 second leg soccer match in Istanbul March 19, 2015. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

(Reuters) - Celtic and Aberdeen have had their next two Scottish Premiership matches postponed after players broke quarantine rules, the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) said on Tuesday.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon demanded the cancellation after Celtic's Belgian defender Boli Bolingoli played in a 1-1 draw at Kilmarnock on Sunday without quarantining on his return from Spain where he had travelled without informing the club.

Bolingoli's breach of the rules comes days after Aberdeen's trip to St Johnstone was called off due to two of their players testing positive for COVID-19, with six others self-isolating.

"These matches have been postponed in light of ongoing restrictions in Aberdeen and today's news of a breach of government public health guidance and football protocols involving the Celtic FC player, Boli Bolingoli," the SPFL said in a statement.

"During further discussions today with the Minister and government advisers, the Joint Response Group has offered to work on a range of measures – which will involve the whole of professional football in Scotland - to underpin a commitment to raising public health awareness and reaffirm the collective responsibility of the national game."

Scottish champions Celtic were scheduled to visit St Mirren on Wednesday, while Aberdeen were due to face Hamilton. Celtic were also set to host Aberdeen on Saturday.

Sturgeon said the incident involving Bolingoli was a "flagrant breach" of the guidelines.

"What I regret is some football players seem incapable of living up to their responsibilities," she said.

"At a minimum, you should not be expecting to see Aberdeen or Celtic play over the course of the coming week and we'll set out conclusions beyond that.

"Consider today the yellow card; the next time, it will be the red card."


Bolingoli has apologised for his actions but Scottish champions Celtics have promised an investigation after condemning the "stupidity" of the player's actions.

"It's difficult to imagine a more irresponsible action in current circumstances and we find it beyond explanation," the club said in a statement.

"Celtic are in touch with every SPFL club today, and with all relevant authorities, to apologise for the fact that one of our employees has created so much additional difficulty through his actions."

They said their entire playing and backroom staff had been tested twice for the novel coronavirus since the incident and all, including Bolingoli, had tested negative.

"While this comes as a relief to all concerned, it in no way diminishes the seriousness or stupidity of the player's actions," Celtic said.

Celtic manager Neil Lennon said Bolingoli's actions had left him and the club fuming.

"We were absolutely livid, appalled," he told reporters.

"The club have been at the forefront of maintaining good practice, the protocols all in place, trying to get the game up and running and we've been bitterly and sorely let down.

"... This is a rogue who's gone off tangent and decided to do something very selfish."

The Scottish police said in a statement that Bolingoli had been fined for breaching quarantine regulations.

"The Chief Constable has made it consistently clear that we should all take personal responsibility to do the right thing and remember the purpose of these measures is to aid the collective effort to stay safe," the police said.

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram, Shrivathsa Sridhar and Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Estelle Shirbon in London; Editing by Kevin Liffey/Christian Radnedge/Ken Ferris)

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