Sunday March 4 2018
Malago: 'Had to call off games'

CONI President Giovanni Malagò said calling off Serie A and B games after the death of Davide Astori was “the only decision we could make.”

The decision was made to cancel all today’s planned Serie A and B games after Fiorentina captain Astori died in his sleep at the team hotel.

The Viola were due to take on Udinese at the Dacia Arena this afternoon.

“This morning my phone rang and it was Brunelli of the Lega Serie A, telling me it was urgent and dramatic news,” explained Malagò in a Press conference.

“I was speechless. Brunelli urged me not to spread the news until Fiorentina had been able to contact his family. It was only right that the first announcement come from the club.

“Meanwhile, Genoa and Cagliari were about to step on to the field for the early kick-off, and Astori had played for the Sardinians. Everyone immediately expressed the desire to call off the game. I spoke to (Cagliari President Tommaso) Giulini, then with (Genoa President Enrico) Preziosi, who gave the go-ahead to cancel the match."

News filtered through to the teams during their warm-up at Marassi and some, including his Italy teammate Mattia Perin, ran off the field in tears.

“Meanwhile, other clubs sent messages that they did not want to play and I realised the other matches would have to be called off, including tonight’s Milan-Inter. The Lega Serie B also communicated they were ready to postpone their games.

“There can be no words right now, I think the decision was right to call off the fixtures, because now more than ever the football I want and imagine is one of values, ideals and shared emotions.

“Out of respect not just for the athlete, but the man, I maintain it was the right and only decision we could make.”

There is an autopsy on Astori planned for today, but the initial news from the Udine authorities is of death by natural causes due to cardiac arrest.

“I have spoken to several medics and we don’t want to let anyone get caught up in speculation,” continued Malagò.

“There is no doctor on the face of this earth that can tell you there’s a way to prevent what happened. I send my condolences from the whole world of sport.

“Tomorrow there is already a Lega Serie A meeting planned and some theories on when to play these games, with a few clubs who have particularly packed fixture lists.”

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