Bayern Munich’s woes over players unvaccinated against the coronavirus deepened Sunday with four more unimmunised players joining Joshua Kimmich in quarantine.
Hours after reports emerged that the club was docking the pay of unvaccinated players put in quarantine, Bayern said Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala, Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting and Michael Cuisance also had to be isolated over contact with an individual who tested positive.
The news is an unwelcome distraction, two days before Tuesday’s Champions League tie at Dynamo Kiev with Bayern already through to the last 16.
All besides Cuisance had only just completed a first round of house isolation on Tuesday as they had contact with Bayern team-mate Niklas Suele, who tested positive last week.
The latest quarantine order risks inflaming an already heated debate over whether sports personalities should be required to take the jab as Germany ails under a vicious fourth wave.
Kimmich, 26, had drawn sharp criticism since revealing he opted not to be vaccinated due to “personal concerns”.
Bayern bosses reportedly summoned him and his four unvaccinated teammates on Thursday to inform them of the pay cut when they are in isolation because they have not taken the jab, Bild said Sunday, quoting unnamed sources from the team.
Bayern have declined comment.
Under new rules taking effect from November 1, employees who miss work because of a quarantine are no longer entitled to receive compensation if they are unvaccinated.
For Kimmich, whose annual pay reaches 20 million euros ($23 million), a week’s quarantine means earning losses of about 384,000 euros.
His absence has left his club struggling. On Friday, the Bundesliga leaders crashed to a shock 2-1 defeat at Augsburg.
– ‘A sign’ –
Former Bayern boss Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told broadcaster Sky that if the wage cuts are confirmed, they “should be understood as a sign that the club is now reacting. Because it must react.”
Germany’s failure to shake off the pandemic has deep financial consequences for Bayern, he said.
Latest curbs imposed to tame the infections surge mean the club can only host one in four spectators at its stadium.
“That’s of course also a big loss for FC Bayern,” said Rummenigge.
Germany is battling a renewed surge of the virus with infection numbers hitting new records this week.
A relatively low vaccination rate — hovering under 70 percent — has left the country vulnerable.
German leaders this week decided new curbs to spur those holding out against the jab to change their minds.
Those not immunised will have to provide negative tests to use public transport or go to the office.
They will also be shut out of restaurants, sporting events and cultural shows in regions where the hospitalisation rate stands at above three patients per 100,000 over the past seven days.
The national average reached 5.5 on Sunday.
In the worst-hit zones, regional leaders have imposed partial shutdowns.
The state of Saxony has ordered all sporting and cultural venues shut, banned tourism and public consumption of alcohol.
Christmas markets, which were due to open on Monday, have been cancelled across Saxony and Bavaria.