Football stars in hot water after wife exposes virus breach

Ever Banega, Lucas Ocampos, Franco Vazquez and Luuk de Jong were caught breaking the rules. Images: Instagram

La Liga chief Javier Tebas said on Sunday that footballers must remember to act responsibly to stop the spread of coronavirus after four Sevilla players broke the Spanish government's rules on social gatherings.

Argentine trio Ever Banega, Lucas Ocampos and Franco Vazquez as well as Dutch striker Luuk de Jong were pictured at a gathering along with eight other people over the weekend.

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The picture was posted on Instagram by Banega's wife.

Spain has eased one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe as its COVID-19 infection rate has slowed and the death toll has declined, although groups of more than 10 people are still not permitted by the guidelines.

La Liga is following its own strict protocol to ensure player safety when football resumes.

“Players are an example to society and should be careful with their actions,” Tebas told television network Movistar.

"I call on all footballers to not act like this. We have to be very careful because a lot of people's jobs are at stake.

“Safety is guaranteed at training grounds and matches but I'm worried about other places and parties like this. We should all be very cautious.”

Ever Banega and Lucas Ocampos in action for Sevilla in 2019. (Photo by CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP via Getty Images)

Sevilla players apologise on Twitter

The players all issued statements to apologise for their behaviour, which Sevilla published on the club's official Twitter account.

“I want to apologise for what happened yesterday,” Banega said on Instagram.

“It was a gathering of teammates and family but we didn't know we weren't right... It won't happen again.”

Sevilla did not state whether the players would face disciplinary action and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

All organised soccer in Spain was provisionally suspended on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic although on Saturday the government said the top two divisions could resume from June 8.

Sevilla's derby match with neighbours Real Betis is set to be the first La Liga game to be played when the season resumes next month, with Tebas saying he hopes the match will be played on June 11.