Melbourne Victory are angry and confused as they brace for two weeks of self-isolation after a debilitating A-League defeat in Wellington.
Star striker Ola Toivonen has hit out on social media at the scenario confronting his out-of-sorts team when they get home on Monday, insisting they had been “promised” a problem-free return to Melbourne by the Australian government before they departed.
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Coach Carlos Salvachua was perplexed by what self-isolation meant and how his team would cope with it for 14 days heading into the final weeks of a mediocre season by their standards.
A 3-0 loss to the in-form Phoenix dropped the perennial powerhouses to second last on the standings with five rounds remaining.
It didn't help the mood of an angry Toivonen, the Swedish striker hinting on Twitter that Victory players were stunned to learn of the government's strict border measures and a midnight Sunday cut-off, announced soon before kickoff.
"Unique/bizarre situation here in NZ. Friday we were promised, by the Australian government, that there would be no ramifications returning to Australia on Monday. Looking at 14 days quarantine now," he wrote.
Unique/bizarre situation here in NZ. Friday we were promised, by the Australian government, that there would be no ramifications returning to Australia on Monday. Looking at 14 days quarantine now 🤔— Ola Toivonen (@OlaToivonen20) March 15, 2020
Victory released a statement late on Sunday, saying it would comply with the government protocols.
However, immediately after full-time, caretaker coach Salvachua was seeking guidance on what isolation would mean and how it would affect preparations for their next game, whenever it was played.
“I can't imagine. What means isolation, I don't know? Stay at home or not, I don't know,” he said.
“It is too early to know what is going to happen. Anyone who knows what it means, explain to me please.”
Salvachua wouldn't comment on suggestions the Wellington game should have been postponed, giving his team a chance to return home before the restrictions kicked in.
Players boss slams ‘disgrace’
Professional Footballers Australia boss John Didulica described the situation as a ‘disgrace’.
“We had assurances from DFAT that this would not happen. That was the total precondition for us committing to play the game,’’ he said.
“It’s a disgrace. If we had been told this was a possibility then we would not have flown over there, or if we knew earlier in the day that the conditions would be changed then we would have rescheduled the flights and left Wellington earlier in the day so that we would have been able to get home in time.
“The impact of isolation is disastrous for the players. They can’t train, they have to stay in their own homes, and they won’t be able to play in their games for the next fortnight.
“The players acted in good faith and have been let down.”
A-League season to continue
The A-League and W-League will continue with games played in empty stadiums, Football Federation Australia says.
And Wellington Phoenix will play the remainder of their fixtures in Australia, FFA chief executive officer James Johnson told reporters in Sydney on Monday.
“This is an unprecedented time and extremely complex for the sport and society at large,” Johnson said.
All lower-level soccer leagues in Australia, including under-age competitions, were permitted to continue without spectators and with enhanced hygiene protocols.
In the elite A-League, Wellington will likely depart New Zealand on Tuesday and spend the next 14 days in isolation, in line with government travel advice.
The club will likely be based in Sydney.
Phoenix's fixtures will be rescheduled, as will those of Melbourne Victory, who return to Australia later Monday.
With Yahoo Sports Staff