Hertha Berlin's Kalou suspended for video disregarding distancing protocols

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Hertha Berlin's Salomon Kalou has been suspended and heavily criticised after broadcasting a livestream showing social distancing measures being flouted.

The Ivory Coast striker 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 coronavirus at the club's facility.

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The footage, which has since been deleted, was broadcast on the same day the German football 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 DFL sharply criticised the footage on Twitter.

"The pictures from Salomon Kalou from the changing room of Hertha BSC are completely unacceptable. There cannot be any tolerance for it -- 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 said.

Later on Monday, Hertha announced that they had suspended Kalou for the incident and said in a statement: "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.

"Hertha BSC has therefore decided to suspend him from training and playing with immediate effect."

Kicker magazine said the video would damage efforts to restart the Bundesliga as it was "grist to the mill for critics who want to see professional soccer remain on hold."

Chancellor Angela Merkel and 16 state governors are due to decide on Wednesday whether the league can resume without fans present. She previously warned there was still a danger that COVID-19 infections could rise if containment measures were relaxed too soon.

Reuters reported on Monday evening that they had two sources confirm ahead of the meeting that Germany would begin reopening large shops as soon as May 11 and allow the Bundesliga to resume play in the coming weeks with no fans in the stands.

The DFL said 1,724 tests for COVID-19 were carried out over two rounds among players, coaches, physiotherapists and other staff as part of its hygiene concept in a bid to restart competitive games some time in May.

Only four possible cases had been reported before the league's report on Monday. Cologne on Friday said they had three positive cases, while second-division side Stuttgart reported one "inconclusive result" from a person on Sunday.

"The responsibility for compliance with general hygiene rules is a prerequisite every day for each individual," the league said in its report.

Clubs across the top two divisions have committed to finishing the season by the end of June.