Ben Diamond |
Switzerland captain Granit Xhaka will miss Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against European champions Italy after testing positive for Covid-19, the Swiss football association said.
The Arsenal midfielder is also unavailable for next week’s qualifier away to Northern Ireland and has been replaced in the squad by Fabian Frei of Basel.
Xhaka returned a positive coronavirus test on Wednesday and was confined to his hotel room, sitting out the 2-1 friendly win over Greece. He again tested positive on Thursday.
He is the only player in Murat Yakin’s squad not to be vaccinated or have recovered from Covid, according to a Swiss team source. No other players were required to isolate as a result.
“Granit must show the example as captain. He does it, but he is also a human being,” said Yakin, cited by Swiss news agency Keystone-ATS. “We must respect the decision he has taken.”
Xhaka is not an isolated case in Switzerland, where only 52 percent of the population are fully vaccinated — a rate that lags behind those in neighbouring European countries.