Bundesliga side Hertha BSC have suspended Salomon Kalou from training and all match operations with immediate effect.
The Ivory Coast star posted a Facebook Live video earlier in the day showing him breaking physical distancing rules with his teammates (video clip available at the end of this article). In the clip, Kalou was seen shaking hands with teammates and interrupting a COVID-19 testing of Hertha defender Jordan Torunarigha. The doctor tells him he should not be in the same room during this procedure and should delete the video. But Kalou stayed regardless.
The 34 year old former Chelsea star also filmed himself in conversation with fellow striker Vedad Ibisevic, who complains about having his salary cut amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The video is a blow for the DFL Deutsche Fußball Liga, the organising body of the Bundesliga and Bundesliga 2, who are hoping to resume the 2019-20 season with various strict rules and measures.”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 DFL reacted on Twitter.
“With his video, Salomon Kalou gave the impression that Hertha BSC’s players are not taking the required social distancing and hygiene guidelines of health services seriously. Hertha BCS would like to clarify that these were the actions of one individual player. The fact that other team members did not draw his attention to this transgression, and instead returned the greeting with a handshake, makes it clear that rules on social distancing must be enforced with even greater intensity,” said Hertha BSC in an official statement.
“Hertha BSC’s players remain split into four groups of eight during training sessions. These groups follow a precise plan while moving around, in complete compliance with social distancing guidelines. In addition, players are being repeatedly informed on said health guidelines. Salomon Kalou was tempted by his negative test results to greet the other players in the dressing room, sometimes with a handshake, contrary to the clear announcements made by health authorities.”
“With his ‘Corona Song’, Kalou gave the impression that he is not aware of the extent of the ongoing pandemic. Therefore, Salomon Kalou, who does much charity work in his home country of Ivory Coast, would like to make the following statement; ‘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.'”
“With this video taken inside the team’s dressing room, Kalou broke clear internal rules and display 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 club continued.
“The discussion on partially waiving the salaries of the Hertha BSC’s professional players was caused by incorrect calculations. These have since been corrected. These measures were openly discussed in coordination with everyone, and supported by all of the players. There was no internal criticism. On the contrary, everybody welcomed these measures.”
Hertha BSC Sporting Director Michael Preetz said: “With his video, Salomon Kalou has not only done a great deal of damage to Hertha BSC, but also created the impression that individual players are not taking the issue of coronavirus seriously, in a time of great discussion on the resumption of football and the role of the professional game. I would like to emphasise that we continue to notify all those involved of guidelines on hygiene and social distancing, and make them aware of consequent compliance. We’re clearly following the requirements of the health authorities responsible for us, as well as the recommendations of the RKI. Hertha BSC deeply regret the behaviour of Salomon Kalou. Especially since he is a player as decorated as he is experienced. However, the extent of this misconduct requires consistent action.”