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Player infections cast doubt over completion of Finnish football season

The entire squad and staff of IFK Mariehamn are now in quarantine after five players contracted coronavirus.

Jalkapallo, kuvituskuva
Finland's premier division Veikkausliiga is due to complete the regular season on 1 November. Image: Tomi Hänninen

Four more members of the IFK Mariehamn playing squad have tested positive for coronavirus, raising questions about how Finnish football’s top division, the Veikkausliiga, can be completed this season.

In a brief statement released on its website, the Åland-based club confirmed the latest infections--adding to the one previous case from Tuesday--and said all the infected players are either asymptomatic or displaying only mild symptoms.

IFK Mariehamn's next scheduled match is against current league leaders HJK in Åland on October 29, a game which has already been rescheduled from Thursday of this week.

"We are all in ten-day quarantine until October 27, including the new cases," club CEO Peter Mattsoon told Yle. "If there are no new symptoms, we can play against HJK on 29 October. If new symptoms occur, the league may decide to take further action. Most importantly, the regular season must be played to completion."

Once regular season placings are confirmed after the last round of fixtures scheduled for 1 November, the top six teams then enter a Championship Series which determines the league’s winners as well as European qualification places.

This new format was introduced in 2019 and the league’s administrators decided at the outset of the delayed start to this season that it would be used again this year.

According to daily Helsingin Sanomat, league bosses will decide next week if the championship series can go ahead.

If not, HS writes, the final rankings will be determined by the regular season placings and HJK will be crowned champions.

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