Arsenal’s preseason at risk amidst Covid-19 scares

Arsenal’s preseason at risk amidst Covid-19 scares

Florida Cup in danger

The Florida Cup was set to be Arsenal’s next preseason fixture. The club were due to play a semi-final tie against Inter Milan on Sunday, with Everton and Colombian side Millonarios making up the other two sides in the competition.

However, the tournament may have to progress without Inter, if reports coming out of Italy are to be believed.

According to Italian outlet Il Corriere dello Sport, the side have informed the organisers that they wish to withdraw from the competition, due to the spread of the Deta variant of COVID-19.

Inter Milan are familiar with the virus, having had winger Valentino Lazaro test positive just last week, and are keen not to take any more risks than absolutely necessary.

According to the report [via Football Italia], this includes “joining crowded events and lengthy trips”. The tournament, due to be played at Camping World Stadium in Florida, has no restrictions on fan attendance and, with a capacity of 65,000, could prove a superspreader for the virus.

As a result, Inter have reservations, and seem to view the withdrawal fee as a lesser evil than the prospect of playing.

Where does this leave the tournament?

With each side being guaranteed two games due to a third/fourth placed play-off, there are two options going forwards.

Firstly, Arsenal may receive a bye to the final, which would also mean the third-fourth playoff would have to be cancelled.

Alternatively, another club, perhaps from the MLS, to take Inter’s spot. This would mean that the tournament would be restored to its full complement of teams, and would allow the revenue from the ticket sales to remain. Moreover, it would mean that every team would once again play two games, which could be vital for preseason.

However, Inter’s proposed withdrawal at such late notice could prove a hammer blow to the event. Could other sides follow suit?

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