It wasn't a kiss: Bundesliga footballer sorry for social distancing breach

Updated: May 19, 2020, 07:26 IST | AFP | Berlin

Hertha Berlin's Boyata apologises for social distancing breach but insists he was only speaking to his teammate

Dedryck Boyata
Dedryck Boyata

Hertha Berlin defender Dedryck Boyata apologised on Sunday for his up-close encounter with Marko Grujic but denied kissing his teammate after a senior German politician criticised players for breaching the league's strict hygiene protocol.

Strict guidelines
The German Bundesliga restarted on Saturday after a two-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic with clubs agreeing to strict hygiene guidelines in a government approved plan.

However, Bavarian state minister Markus Soeder said he expected the league to "tighten up" on how to celebrate goals after some players hugged teammates. Players were told to avoid contact whenever possible, especially when celebrating goals. That was ignored on a few occasions although a repentant Boyata said he was simply uttering instructions to Grujic.

The Belgium international had appeared to kiss Grujic on the cheek on Saturday as Hertha won 3-0 against Hoffenheim. "I apologise for putting my hands on [Grujic's] face," Boyata wrote on Instagram, explaining that it was not a kiss but that he "was giving him instructions about a set piece. We must definitely be careful now that we play under this situation. We have to adapt our way to play or celebrate," he added.

Earlier this month, Hertha had suspended ex-Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou for posting a video of him shaking hands with teammates in the dressing room before training.

No hugging here
"Football has an extreme function to be a role model, so we should stick to our instructions and pay attention to it next week," Soeder told broadcaster Sport1 on Sunday. Also on Saturday, some Borussia Moenchengladbach players hugged after their team scored two early goals in the 3-1 victory at Eintracht Frankfurt. Hertha coach Bruno Labbadia defended his players, who hugged in celebration after their goals, insisting it is part of the game.

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