Chinese striker Wu Lei's health has 'improved a lot'
Published: Apr 11, 2020 08:48 PM

Chinese striker Wu Lei of RCD Espanyol. Photo: VCG

The health of Chinese striker Wu Lei, who contracted COVID-19 in Spain in March, has improved a lot, according to Yao Fei, charge d'affaires of the Chinese Embassy in Spain on Saturday. 

Wu, of Spain's La Liga side RCD Espanyol, is the only Chinese soccer player currently playing overseas. He was revealed to have been infected by the virus on March 21, three days after the club announced six club staff tested positive. 

In a weekly video release posted by Wu on Wednesday, Wu said he has not gone to do a second nucleic acid test as Spain is just starting to see the coronavirus outbreak slow down. 

"I feel I have recovered but I haven't gone to do another test," Wu said in the video. "I have started recovery training, including spinning at home, jogging and strength training. But I really miss playing football on the pitch."

The coronavirus pandemic has also forced other Chinese internationals to take a special overseas training session since the beginning of March, where they were supposed to prepare for 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying games. 

The team was dispersed only on Monday, after spending a 14-day quarantine period in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province. Earlier, they traveled back from Dubai, with none of the national team's qualifiers being played.

Li Tie, head coach of the Chinese national soccer team, told CCTV Sports on Friday night that a training session will probably be held in May, but behind closed doors. 

Li also got his one-year contract with the national team, which was expected to end in June, extended to an indefinite period, Beijing Youth Daily reported Saturday. 

As the coronavirus situation eases in China, talks have swirled up about when domestic league matches could be played. But the State Council, China's cabinet,  said Thursday that big-scale sporting events will not resume for now due to safety concerns. 

Nearly half of the foreign players in the Chinese Super League (CSL) are yet to return to China due to new entry restrictions on foreigners that were imposed from March 28.

In addition, ahead of the season's start, which was supposed to begin in February, CSL clubs are expected to slash players' salaries - a move that many world-renowned clubs are doing to offset financial impacts from the pandemic spread.

Mao Jiale, a Chengdu-based sports commentator, said salary cuts are reasonable as the league must also maintain "financially healthy." 

"Some CSL clubs' high-rocketing spending has rendered smaller clubs more difficult to survive in the league," Mao told the Global Times on Saturday. "A general salary cut will help smaller teams survive and make the league more balanced."

The CSL has long been accused of hosting many highly paid international stars. CSL club Tianjin Tianhai are struggling to maintain their CSL berth as the large expenditure of its predecessor Quanjian has left a big deficit for the club to fill.