NEWS
Sunday February 23 2020
Malago' on Calcio amid Coronavirus

CONI President Giovanni Malagò admits the fixture list is entirely up in the air after four Serie A games were called off due to the Coronavirus scare.

Late last night, it was announced that all sporting events in Lombardy and Veneto – the areas with the most cases – would be suspended for Sunday.

These included Inter-Sampdoria, Atalanta-Sassuolo and Verona-Cagliari, with Torino-Parma joining the list of abandoned matches today.

“At this moment the world of sport mustn’t try to go its own way, so it absolutely needs to share the indications of the authorities, first and foremost the Government,” Malagò told Sky Sport Italia.

“Last night was a little chaotic with the very late crisis meeting and this announcement that we had to abide by. Some may disagree with it, would’ve done maybe more or less, but this is the situation.”

It has been reported games could be played behind closed doors, as there won’t be time to make up the fixtures.

“It was one of the options on the table, but I feel it would’ve been profoundly wrong and unfair if we had decided to do this before any order from the Government.

“It’s not just football, there are several other sports that are affected by this. Football directors, representatives of many clubs were all involved in discussions late last night and at the time, Torino-Parma was not one of those at risk.”

Had it been suggested that today’s cancelled matches be played behind closed doors?

“There are some issues, which are that objectively starting from the Inter game, there were 60,000 tickets sold and it was a huge economic problem to refund all those.

“The other is that if a game goes ahead behind closed doors, there are going to be fans who were either already on their way or are ready to stand outside to cheer on their team, it’s going to cause a public safety issue. That’s particularly problematic at this moment when police are busy on other situations and won’t be able to stand outside a football stadium.”

There are now orders for schools to be shut over the next week in several regions, including Lombardy, Veneto, Reggio-Emilia and Piedmont.

“It’s a matter of public health and not just those who go to the stadium. I hear some who make statements on the medical aspect and I don’t see what information they have to feel so confident in saying these things,” continued Malagò.

“Public health is paramount. The statement was released very late last night, then this morning the decision on Torino, the situation is still developing rapidly and we are all trying to understand it. Undeniably, the issues of sport have to go into the background.

“The fixtures will also have to be organised with the international authorities, as for example Inter have a Europa League game on Thursday and then the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final with Napoli. I spoke to (Inter director Beppe) Marotta for the last time at 2.30am, that’s how hard we were working on that.

“Basically, we have to take it one day at a time. If someone tells you today they have an answer to what will happen, they are lying.”

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