Real Madrid striker Luka Jovic has apologised after travelling to Serbia and breaking self-isolation rules put in place to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Jovic claims he was given permission to fly to his home country of Serbia by Real Madrid, who went into quarantine last week after one of the club’s basketball players tested positive for the virus.
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The 22-year-old returned from Spain last week and was seen on the streets of Belgrade and pictured at his girlfriends' birthday party.
The local press in Belgrade have reported that Jovic was visited by police, although it is not clear whether charges will be brought against him.
“First of all, I am very sorry that I am the main topic (of debate) these days, and I am sorry that people are constantly writing about me and not about the main protagonists in the fight against this crisis, who are the doctors and all those who work in healthcare," Jovic wrote on social media.
“In Madrid, my Covid-19 test was negative. So I decided to travel to Serbia, to help and support our people, in addition to being close to my family, with the permission of my club.
“When I arrived in Serbia, they gave me the test and it came out negative. I am very sorry that some people have not done their job professionally and have not given me specific instructions on how I should behave during my isolation.
“In Spain it is allowed to go to buy food or buy products in pharmacies, which does not happen here (in Serbia). I apologise to everyone if in any way I have hurt or put someone in danger. I hope that together we can overcome all this.”
Serbian officials slam Jovic
President Aleksandar Vucic confirmed that Jovic is one of two Serbian players are under investigation for skipping quarantine.
Prime Minister Ana Brnabic was particularly critical.
“We have the negative example of our football stars who earn millions and have ignored the obligation to self-isolate so they can return home,” she said.
“The fact that they are known sportsmen, and that they are rich, will not stop them from being punished,” Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic added.
“Either they will respect the law, or they'll go to jail.”
As an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, Serbia has told all those returning from states battling the virus to self-isolate for up to 28 days.
Meanwhile, Spain's health ministry said on Thursday the death toll from the pandemic soared by 209 to 767 fatalities from the previous day as the total number of coronavirus cases climbed by a quarter to 17,147.
On Wednesday, there were 13,716 cases in Spain.