Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic has defended world number one tennis player Novak Djokovic after his fellow Serb came in for widespread criticism over a tournament he hosted.
Djokovic recently confirmed he tested positive for coronavirus after helping to host a number of Adria Tour exhibition events in Serbia and Croatia.
The events, played in front of full crowds, ignored social distancing advice and players were pictured enjoying nights out together.
Djokovic and his wife Jelena have since tested positive for Covid-19, as have a number of other players and attendees.
The 33-year-old has apologised but Matic thinks the criticism of him has been unfair.
“People need to understand that the situation in Serbia was better than here,” Matic told Sky Sports News.
“The country allowed everyone to do whatever they want, everything was open, the shopping centres and the restaurants.
“So, they started to live normal lives because our country was closed for three months completely. You were not allowed to walk on the street, you couldn't leave your home, so it was different than [in England].
“But when they opened, they said, 'You are more than free to do whatever you want'. Before that tournament, there was a game with 20,000 people and nobody said anything about that.
“I just wanted to say that it is not his fault that he made the tournament. He just wanted to help the players play competitions. I don't see that he [did] something wrong.”
Djokovic and his wife were both asymptomatic, and self-isolated after testing positive.
The five-time Wimbledon champion released a statement admitting he was wrong to host the tournaments.
“I am so deeply sorry our tournament has caused harm,” Djokovic said. “Everything the organisers and I did the past month, we did with a pure heart and sincere intentions.
“We believed the tournament met all health protocols and the health of our region seemed in good conditions to finally unite people for philanthropic reasons.
“We were wrong and it was too soon. I can’t express enough how sorry I am for this and every case of infection.”
Among the other players to test positive were Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Viktor Troicki, as well as Troicki’s pregnant wife, Aleksandra.