Spain has become one of the world's hardest-hit countries in the coronavirus pandemic, and on March 16, the Spanish government ordered a national lockdown to slow the spread of the deadly virus. But so far, two international players from a single La Liga team have defied the lockdown to travel to their home countries. This week, according to a Google-translated report by the Spanish sports site AS, Russian star Fyodor Smolev went to his home country to visit his fiancée on her birthday.
Smolov, a star of Russia's national team and a celebrity in Russia, is 30 years old. His fiancée, Maria Yumasheva, has just celebrated her 18th birthday. The pair became engaged in January, about five years after Smolov's highly publicized divorce from model and TV host Victoria Lopyreva.
Yumasheva is also the granddaughter of Russia's first president of the post-Soviet Union era, Boris Yeltsin.
Spain's lockdown — which has shuttered all but "essential" businesses — includes a ban on international travel, and Celta de Vigo management did not grant Smolov permission to travel back to Russia for what he reportedly told the team was a "personal matter." But the striker, who was loaned to the Spanish club by three-time Russian champions Lokomotiv Moscow, flew on a private plane to Russia anyway, according to the aforementioned report.
In an interview last week, Smolov said, "I accept the situation," when asked about being stuck in Spain for the duration of the lockdown, according to AS.
Previously, Celta de Vigo forward Pione Sisto drove from Spain to his home in Denmark, defying the coronavirus travel ban. Smolov is expected to face a fine upon his return to Spain from Russia.
Celta de Vigo, a team based in the Spanish region of Galicia, sat in 17th place on the La Liga table, just one point above the relegation zone, when play in the league came to a sudden halt after Round 27, the weekend of March 7 and March 8, due to the coronavirus outbreak. One week later, the entire country was placed under a lockdown order, with all Spanish residents required to stay in their homes except to perform "essential" functions and duties.
Spain has suffered 12,418 deaths from coronavirus, the second-highest confirmed a total of any country in the world, according to the population data site Worldometer.
But while China, where the pandemic originated, has reported only about 3,300 deaths, United States intelligence sources reportedly say that the real total may be closer to 47,000.