Didier Deschamps will want to spend the last two days finalizing a plan to contain Lionel Messi in Sunday’s World Cup final between France and Argentina. Instead, he has been busy answering questions about France’s terribly seasonal outbreaks.
France weren’t the only team to suffer the sickness bug while in Qatar. Brazil’s Antony blamed the air conditioning for his cold, while Switzerland coach Murat Yakin blamed illness for his side’s 6-1 knockout defeat to Portugal.
But the bug affecting world champions is the most widespread – and the most commented on.
How serious is it? How many players are in danger of missing football’s biggest game? Could it really be something called ‘camel fever’?
It is important to note that the French Football Federation has shared some valuable information on this issue. And the more lurid rumors about the virus can be quickly debunked. With that in mind, let’s break down one of the tournament’s biggest stories.
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Who is sick?
France are without several key players for this World Cup. Lucas Hernandez and Karim Benzema suffered injuries in Qatar, while N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Wesley Fofana, Mike Maignan, Presnel Kimpembe, Christopher Nkunku were injured before the tournament.
France then suffered the sickness bug after a 2–1 win over England on 10 December.
Three days later, two players who started that game – defender Diot Upamecano and midfielder Adrien Rabiot – missed training because they felt ill. Then neither played in the 2-0 semi-final win over Morocco.
On Thursday, Deschamps said Kingsley Coman was ill. And, ahead of the final against Argentina, France confirmed that Raphael Varane and Ibrahim Konate were affected by the bug.
Who missed practice on Friday?
Five players, not the aforementioned five.
Upamecano and Rabiot were healthy enough to return to training. But Coman, Varane and Konate all had to train separately away from the main squad.
Theo Hernandez and Aurelien Tchouameni were also absent but not due to illness. Hernandez was hit in the knee in the victory against Morocco, trained as an individual. Tchouameni, who has started all of France’s games, is nursing a minor hip injury.
Who won’t make it to the finals?
It is not clear. France was tight-lipped on the details in an effort to avoid giving Argentina a tactical advantage.
Deschamps insisted on Wednesday that Upamecano and Rabiot are fit to play. Both players will return to training on Friday, indicating they are in contention.
Less is known about Coman, Varane and Konate. But they have little time left to regain full match fitness and it would be instructive to skip training sessions for either Upamecano or Rabiot against Morocco – even if Upamecano is fit enough to be on the bench.
However, some reports in the French media on Friday night claimed that Common was close to returning.
Has France changed their protocols?
Yes. They have essentially reverted to a set of measures that became commonplace during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Journalists interviewing French players at the tournament must now wear face masks. “We’re all trying to be careful not to spread it,” Deschamps explained after the Morocco victory.
Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele said afterwards: “We are not worried. We are just taking precautions. On the first day, when Dayo contracted the virus, he stayed in his room as a precaution. He later joined the team. “
He also said he made “ginger and honey tea” for his weaker teammates. At least the sweet thing about him.
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What exactly are they suffering from?
It is still not clear.
Deschamps initially said Upamecano and Rabiot had shown “flu-like symptoms”. He later said Koeman was suffering from a “fever”.
“In Doha, the temperature has dropped a bit, you have air conditioning, it’s always on,” Deschamps said. “We had some flu-like symptoms. We are trying to be careful not to spread it and the players have put in a lot of effort on the pitch and obviously their immune systems are suffering. “
Dembele described the strain as a “virus” and Randal Kolo Muani, who scored France’s second goal against Morocco with his first touch, told reporters: “It’s a small error, spread, but nothing serious. Sunday they will be on their feet.
However, a French media official quickly added: “As you know, Randall is not a doctor.”
What is this about MERS?
Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) is a coronavirus similar to COVID-19. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Most MERS patients developed severe respiratory illness with symptoms such as fever, cough and shortness of breath. About three to four of every 10 cases reported with MERS have died.
On December 11, when Upamecano and Rabiot first fell ill, a number of English-language media outlets reported that the UK’s Health Protection Agency had warned doctors across the UK that fans returning from Qatar could carry the virus.
However, this brief has not been made public. It is unclear whether MERS has been diagnosed in people who have recently traveled to Qatar.
Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Vaccine and Infectious Diseases Organization at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, said on Dec. 14.
MERS is trending for the 3rd day in a row, so I’ll say it again AFAIK there is not even 1 case related to the World Cup. I don’t think there are any suspicious cases other than “I saw people coughing”.
While MERS-CoV is always a concern, these particular concerns seem fanciful.
— Dr. Angela Rasmussen (@angie_rasmussen) December 14, 2022
And what about air conditioning?
Air conditioning systems used in some World Cup stadiums in Qatar have been accused of causing players to fall ill.
Seven of the tournament’s eight stadiums are air-cooled at field level, and buildings and transport interiors in Qatar are generally air-conditioned due to the nation’s high temperatures.
Manchester United forward Antony has told ESPN Brazil that he believes the air conditioning made him sick during the early stages of the World Cup. “It was a little awkward,” he said. “I had a bad feeling for a few days there and it complicated me a bit.
“It’s more sickness, throat. It was air-conditioned (in stadiums). Not only me but other players also had cough and sore throat.”
Deschamps suggested this week that the air conditioning in the team’s hotel may have contributed to the spread of the illness.
“The air conditioning is always on and so we have some flu-like symptoms but we are trying to prevent it from spreading,” he said.
“The players put a lot of effort on the pitch and their immune systems suffer. Your body is weakened and you are more prone to infection.
What has France said publicly?
Captain Hugo Lloris and Deschamps were both asked about the health of the French team on Saturday but remained tight-lipped about the situation.
“I haven’t had any more news since last night, because when I got up for breakfast everyone was in their rooms,” said Lloris. “I didn’t see anyone this morning. I’m sure more details will come later.
“With the virus, you’re never really prepared for that kind of thing, but we’re trying to prepare for this match as best we can. These are things that we are not necessarily prepared for, but we are focused and very excited about playing in a World Cup final.
“Thanks for asking about me, I’m perfectly well,” Deschamps replied when asked about his own health. “I left the camp early this morning and all the players were still sleeping so I didn’t have any recent updates. We try to manage the situation as best we can, stay calm and focused.
“I’ll get some more information tonight and think about it tomorrow. Of course, we are looking forward to this important match.
On the specific precautions the French squad is taking, Deschamps added: “I don’t want to elaborate. I know it interests you, I understand. We do our best to take precautions and adapt.
“We’re trying to live with it, not going too far, but doing what’s necessary. We are managing it as best we can with our medical staff.”
Could the World Cup final be postponed?
FIFA will do everything possible to keep the biggest competition in all sports from moving, and with the vast majority of players training in France as scheduled on Friday, the likelihood of the game being postponed seems close to zero.
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