Hertha Berlin have suspended and heavily criticised their striker Salomon Kalou for broadcasting a livestream showing social distancing measures being flouted at the club.
The Ivory Coast player took his phone with him on Monday as he fist-bumped teammates in greeting, clapped hands with fellow forward Vedad Ibisevic, complained about a pay cut, and burst in on a teammate apparently being tested for the new coronavirus.
“Kalou did not only cause great damage to Hertha BSC with his video, but has given the impression that individual players are not taking the coronavirus issue seriously, especially in the current discussion about a resumption of play,” Hertha general manager Michael Preetz said.
The footage, which has since been deleted, was broadcast on the same day the German league (DFL) reported 10 positive cases of Covid-19 among the country’s 36 clubs in the top two divisions, and it appeared to contradict the league’s assertion that everything was being done to prevent the spread of the virus.
It showed Hertha’s Jordan Torunarigha being tested by a physiotherapist who was wearing only a simple face mask as protection. The physiotherapist, David de Mel, repeatedly asked Kalou to “delete” the video, before the player walked away laughing, saying he was “only joking.”
The club put the blame squarely on Kalou.
Bayern Munich train
“Hertha BSC would like to state that this was the failure of a single player. The fact that other team members did not draw his attention to this misconduct and instead returned his greeting by handshake shows that the regular references to distance and hygiene rules must be made even more strongly,” Hertha said in a statement.
The club said it was suspending Kalou “with immediate effect” without saying when he will return.
Kalou apologised for the footage.
“I am sorry if I gave the impression that I am not taking corona seriously. I want to apologise for that. The opposite is the case because I am particularly worried about the people in Africa as medical care there is nowhere near as good as it is in Germany,” Kalou said.
“I didn’t really think, and was happy that all our tests were negative. I would also like to apologise to those shown in the video, who did not know that I was broadcasting live and who I did not want to put in such a situation.”