- Associated Press - Sunday, March 1, 2020

MADRID (AP) - The Spanish league said Sunday it will donate five tons of disinfectant to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

The announcement was made at an event with the Wuhan Zall soccer team, which arrived in Spain in January for preseason training but still doesn’t know when it will be able to return home.

The team was scheduled to attend the “clásico” between Real Madrid and Barcelona on Sunday night at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium, with a tour of the Bernabéu on Monday.

“It has not been easy for any of us players,” Wuhan Zall captain Yao Hanlin said. “We miss our friends and especially our families back in Wuhan because it’s them who are going through an extremely hard time. I hope they will persevere in order to go back to normal and get better as soon as possible.”

The league said it organized the event to “show the support and solidarity of Spanish football for the people in China and other countries affected by the virus.”



Members of the Chinese embassy in Madrid also attended the event, which was conducted in a partnership with the Chinese Super League, where Wuhan Zall plays. The start of the league has been suspended and is not expected to resume until at least mid-April.

“We’ve been here for over a month but we actually left Wuhan two months ago,” team captain Yao said. “We have been working very hard in training here every day. Our only goal is to be back … in Wuhan and bring joy to our supporters.”

Members of the Wuhan Zall squad were repeatedly tested for the virus after the team arrived in Spain. Nobody was infected, but the team’s Spanish coach, José González, has told The Associated Press that the grandmother of one of the players died because of the virus in Wuhan.

“They have been training without knowing when the league will start again, coping with family problems back home,” González said in a recent interview. “It would be very easy to disconnect from your profession, very easy, but they have been giving a spectacular lesson of professionalism.”

More than 87,000 people worldwide have been infected, and nearly 3,000 have died.

The league said Espanyol, which has a Chinese owner, had already donated 500,000 masks.

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More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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