The Serie A could be suspended in Italy amid coronavirus fears with Parma vs SPAL almost called off with the players in the tunnel following orders from the Minister of Sport, Vincenzo Spadafora.
Italy is by far the most affected European country, with up to 16m people quarantined leaving around a quarter of the country in lockdown.
And the sporting calendar has already seen multiple postponements, with Serie A and rugby Six Nations matches pushed back.
The Italian government announced this week that all sporting events would be played behind closed doors until April 3.
That means there is due to be a full round of matches this weekend, including the top of the table clash between Juventus and Inter that was cancelled last week.
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However, Parma’s match against SPAL was almost cancelled with the players were in the tunnel following direct orders from the Minister of Sport.
Both line-ups returned to the dressing room to await further orders, before Serie A decided that the game would go ahead half an hour later than planned.
Spadafora said this morning that the league should be suspended until further notice, prompting the delay in proceedings.
“I share the views of Damiano Tommasi, President of the Italian Players’ Association, and I unite with his call to suspend the football league,” the Minister announced.
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“It makes no sense at this moment, while we ask our citizens for enormous sacrifices to prevent the spread of the contagion, to risk the health of players, referees, coaches, fans who will certainly gather to see games, just to protect the interests that revolve around the sport.
“Other Federations have wisely decided to suspend football for the next few days. I think it is the duty of the FIGC President Gabriele Gravina to reflect again, without waiting for the first case of a Serie A player infected, before taking on this very serious responsibility.
“After all, even before the situation became so serious for the country, the Lega Serie A and Sky had already refused to allow thousands of Italians, forced against their will to stay at home, to watch the games free to air on television, hiding behind supposed difficulties that with everyone genuinely trying to, would’ve been overcome.
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“During yesterday’s negotiations, also thanks to the collaboration of RAI and Mediaset, we had come close to a solution that would’ve been equal for all those involved and above all a source of great comfort for the many citizens who are passionate about football.
“Instead, the economic interests prevailed and demanded privileged treatment that is simply beyond reality. Football clubs should instead evaluate how to overcome the clauses that are already being examined by Antitrust associations so they can refund ticket holders for the upcoming games behind closed doors.
“I will over the next few days take into consideration every initiative, including legislation, to get some order into a world that risks no longer representing the ethical and moral values that we would like sport to always aspire to.”
The number of coronavirus cases in Italy jumped to 5,883 on Saturday, with the death toll passing 230, 36 of which were in the last 24 hours.
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