Coronavirus-stricken Nõmme Kalju knocked out of Europa League

Nõmme Kalju players huddling up.
Nõmme Kalju players huddling up. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Estonian football club Nõmme Kalju's UEFA Europa League season came to an end in Slovenia, where the side lost four-nil to NŠ Mura. The match had been initially set to take place in Estonia, but after positive COVID-19 tests for both teams, Estonia's Health Board (Terviseamet) canceled that meeting, depriving the team, which is now at the center of its own coronavirus outbreak, of home-field advantage.

Mura took the lead at home in the 17th minute after forward Kevin Zizek knocked one in on the right-hand side of the Estonian netting. Kalju goalkeeper Marko Meerits went on to save a penalty in the 27th minute, but Zizek knocked in off the rebound, giving the Slovenian side a 2:0 lead.

Andrija Filipovic extended the Slovenian team's lead to 3:0 in the 33rd and Alen Kozar made it 4:0 just three minutes later.

The second half was scoreless, in contrast to the first period's goal-fest, however, ending with Kalju being eliminated from the Europa League, the second-tier European clubs' competition.

FC Flora is the only remaining Estonian team in any European competition. They will face Icelandic champions KR Reykjavik on September 17, also in the Europa League, after being knocked out of the Champions League on penalties in July.

Health Board cancels initially planned match in Estonia

ERR News wrote on August 27 that the meeting between Nõmme Kalju and Slovenian side NŠ Mura, scheduled to take place at 5.30 p.m. on Thursday, was postponed due to coronavirus risks, even though the Estonian Football Association (EJL) had applied to the government for an extraordinary permission.

The Health Board (Terviseamet) based its decision on the fact that a player for Kalju tested positive for COVID-19 on August 23, having played in a domestic league game the day before.

A repeat test on August 25 reconfirmed the infection. An NŠ Mura player also tested postive around the same time, after playing a game in their own domestic league in Slovenia.

Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa) said that calling the match off was not a cancellation as such, explaining it in terms of not allowing footballers, as with regular workers, to go to work if they have been in close contact with anyone infected with COVID-19.

As of September 10, fifteen cases have been associated with the so-called Nõmme Kalju outbreak.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste, Andrew Whyte

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