The Prime Minister of Italy announced that all sporting competition – including Serie A – will be suspended during the Coronavirus crisis.
The decision comes after another significant spike in cases, as there have now been 7,985 positive tests for Coronavirus in the country, an increase of 1,598 from yesterday.
There have also been another 97 deaths over the last 24 hours, taking the total casualty toll to 463.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced in an emergency press conference this evening that the ‘red zone’ limitations that so far had been largely around Lombardy and northern regions until April 3 would now apply to all of Italy.
“There is no more time, the numbers tell us there is a significant increase in the contagion, in intensive care and the deaths. Our habits have to change, we must sacrifice something for the good of all of Italy. This is why we will adopt even more stringent measures.
“I will sign the new decree, which can be summed up with the phrase ‘I am staying at home.’ There are no more red zones, there is just an Italy that is protected.
“We must avoid travel unless for proven work reasons, health reasons or other necessities. We ban large public gatherings.
“We also have more stringent measures in mind for sporting events. Serie A and all sporting tournaments in general are suspended. All the fans must accept that. There is no reason for these competitions to continue.”
There had been growing pressure from the Players’ Association and FIGC to suspend Serie A and B during the crisis, as there was no way of guaranteeing the safety of players and staff.
Above all, the concern was that they would infect friends and family who might be more vulnerable due to age or pre-existing health conditions.
It remains to be seen how this will affect the Champions League and Europa League, as even playing behind closed doors might not be considered enough.
Napoli and Atalanta are in the Champions League, with Atalanta flying out today for tomorrow’s Round of 16 clash with Valencia.
Roma and Inter are both up against Spanish sides in the Europa League, Sevilla and Getafe.