Spain vaccinates Euro 2020 soccer team after outbreak scare


Spain's Alvaro Morata celebrates after scoring the opening goal during a Euro 2020 Group F qualifying soccer match between Spain and Malta at the Ramon de Carranza stadium in Cadiz, Spain, Friday Nov. 15, 2019. (Miguel Morenatti / AP)

MADRID (AP) — Spain’s squad for the European Championship was vaccinated on Friday and one player who had previously tested positive for COVID-19 was cleared to return to the team.

Worried that a chain of infections could derail its chances at the tournament, Spain sent in the army three days before its opening match. Medics from Spain’s Armed Forces administered the shots at the team’s training facility near Madrid.

"We have had the privilege and the good fortune that the government decided to vaccinate us," said Spain midfielder Thiago, who was infected with COVID-19 last year. "While this is great news for us, I hope that we don’t have any adverse effects before the match."

Spain will play Sweden in Seville on Monday in its opening Euro 2020 match.

Some people who receive vaccines can experience fever and tiredness, but many do not have any side effects.

Spain’s preparations for Europe’s biggest national soccer tournament were thrown off this week after captain Sergio Busquets and defender Diego Llorente both tested positive.

Llorente, however, returned to the team Friday after four consecutive tests came back negative, likely indicating that his initial positive result was erroneous.

Busquets tested positive on Sunday and is under a minimum 10-day isolation. The team said he is feeling fine and that it hopes he will be back during the tournament.

Spain coach Luis Enrique called in extra players this week and split them into bubbles to reduce the risk of widespread contagion. But with all his players testing negative since Tuesday, the team said that they would train as a group again on Saturday.

The government allowed the soccer team to be vaccinated ahead of schedule in Spain, which is maintaining a strict order based on age. Currently, no one under 40 years old is eligible for a shot.

Spain has also given special permission for its athletes heading to the Tokyo Olympics to receive vaccinations against the virus.

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