East Asia Japan

Vissel’s Gotoku Sakai Confirmed Positive for COVID-19

Krishna Sadhana

Football Tribe SEA Editor


Vissel Kobe defender Gotoku Sakai became the first J.League player to test positive for COVID-19, after his test results came out on Monday, as announced by his club. The 29-year old former Japan international joins a growing list of footballers who have been confirmed positive for the pneumonia-causing disease, which includes Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi, Juventus players Daniele Rugani and Blaise Matuidi, Ezequiel Garay, Eliaquim Mangala, and Jose Gaya of Valencia, and Persib Bandung’s Wander Luiz.

In their announcement, Vissel detailed on how Gotoku came down with a fever on Wednesday of last week, before being diagnosed with an upper respiratory tract infection at a hospital in Hyogo Prefecture the following day. Gotoku’s fever persisted though and on Friday last week, he began experiencing head and throat pains, before losing his sense of smell and taste the next day. The loss of taste and smell have been attributed as a symptom of COVID-19 by doctors based on observations from recent cases.

Following his loss of taste and smell, Gotoku was advised to take a COVID-19 diagnosis test, which he did. His positive result came out on Monday, the same day Vissel released their announcement regarding the player. In their announcement, Vissel also announced that so far none of their other players – which include Spain legend Andres Iniesta, former Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen, and rising star Kyogo Furuhashi – are showing any symptoms of COVID-19, and so are the club’s staffs. However, Vissel are paying close attention to those who have close contact with Gotoku as well as disinfecting their facilities.

Gotoku, who signed for Vissel from German side Hamburg SV last season, wrote a post on Instagram to assure fans that he’s alright apart from the loss of his sense of taste and smell.

“I had done my best as a professional to avoid crowds, wash my hands, use disinfectant and stay vigilant, but it feels miserable to be infected. All I can do right now is informing others that the virus could be anywhere,” Sakai wrote on his Instagram post, “I can only hope that the infection doesn’t spread beyond me and into others. Fortunately, I’m living apart from my family and they’re doing fine, but I’m asking you to respect our privacy.”

The 2020 J.League 1 season will continue on May 9th, after a lengthy suspension since late February brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The league will release an updated season schedule in the coming days.