Borussia Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp has expressed reservations about the threat posed to players and supporters by the Ebola outbreak, questioning whether next year’s African Nations Cup should go ahead.
Almost 4,500 people have died in West Africa since the outbreak began, with cases of the virus confirmed in other countries including Spain and the U.S.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has said the tournament would go ahead as scheduled. This, despite receiving a request from the government of host nation Morocco for its postponement.
Officials have denied reports that the country has withdrawn as host nation.
Klopp told reporters at a news conference in Dortmund on Thursday: “I’m very concerned about Ebola. I understand that politics shouldn’t influence sports, but recently there have been a few things to worry about.
“If a country has the feeling that they can’t stage the tournament because of this, you have to take that seriously. You can’t just say: ‘It doesn’t matter, nothing will happen.’
“There will be a lot of fans in the stadiums, and only a few of those [stadiums] will have the maximum medical controls.”
Klopp said he had spoken to Dortmund’s Gabon international striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang about the situation before he travelled to play in a qualifier in Burkina Faso at the weekend.
“Young people are oblivious – they worry about such things less,” he said. “Certainly, that promotes the quality of life. But we must not close our eyes.
Meanwhile, in England, Newcastle have become the first Premier League club to screen players returning from international duty for Ebola.
Earlier this week, Cheick Tiote and Papiss Cisse flew back to Tyneside after playing in qualifiers for Ivory Coast and Senegal.
Manager Alan Pardew told the Newcastle Chronicle: “We would be naive not to have concerns. We have a strategy for when they return and making sure they and their families are taken care of.
“Our doctor has looked into the problems that might arise and also protection for them, and we will make sure we do our very best to help them.
“It’s something to be concerned about and we have to be on our guard.”