Last summer, Bayern Munich loaned reserve team keeper Ron-Thorben Hoffmann to AFC Sunderland, an English 3rd division team that most people know from the documentary series on Netflix. However, despite making a strong impression initially, Hoffmann eventually lost his starting spot around the turn of the year and his loan ended without much fanfare.
At the time, there was some confusion from outsiders over why RTH had been given the cold shoulder by Sunderland given his strong start. Now, speaking to Bild, the keeper himself has made a shocking revelation — Sunderland forced him to play while he was infected with Covid-19. Here is the quote from the interview:
“At the turn of the year I got infected [with Covid-19] and that changed everything. When I came back after seven days of quarantine, it went straight back into the goal — although the quick test was still slightly positive. I had to play with corona,” Hoffmann stated.
Hoffmann even trained with his teammates and rode with them in the team bus while he was ill.
“I played three games, but felt worse from game to game. I had dizziness and a stabbing heart, as well as shortness of breath. The adrenaline kept me pumping in the first game because I was happy to be back in goal,” Hoffmann remarked. “From the second game onwards, the symptoms became more severe, hardly anything worked. I told the club management that I cannot help the team at the moment and that I need to be examined more closely. But that was mis-received.”
Hoffmann suspected a more serious issue, but apparently the club did not see things that way.
“After the infection, there were neither examinations of the heart nor the lungs. They didn’t even do quick tests before the games anymore. I wasn’t doing well physically, but the club wanted me to be tougher. I was really scared that something like that with Alphonso Davies or Rune Jarstein [both suffered from myocarditis — editor’s note] could also happen to me,” Hoffmann said.
At the beginning of February, the goalkeeper flew to Munich to be examined there. This did not sit will with the Sunderland bosses. After returning from his trip, he did not play another game for the entire duration of his loan.
“That’s the brutal side of football that you don’t really want to read as a fan,” said Hoffmann. “There were no discussions with those responsible.”
Sunderland, for their part, have released an official statement denying RTH’s claims.
Club statement: Ron Thorben-Hoffmann#SAFC— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) June 10, 2022
From the outside looking in, this incident seems like something the EFL should investigate thoroughly. If Hoffmann’s claims are true, then strict measures must be put in place to punish those involved and prevent this from happening ever again.