March 11 – In a major escalation of the effects of Covid-19 on UEFA competitions, Getafe have refused to travel for their Europa League game against Inter Milan on Thursday, putting the club in direct conflict with European football’s governing body.
Getafe president Angel Torres says they are prepared to forfeit the tie, already scheduled to be played behind closed doors, if UEFA decides to take action.
The region of Lombardy, where Milan is located, is at the epicentre of Europe’s worse coronavirus outbreak which has prompted the Italian government to impose a nationwide lockdown.
“We have looked for an alternative to playing in Milan,” Torres told Onda Cero radio. “We don’t want to be in the focal point of the coronavirus outbreak, we don’t need that. We have asked UEFA to look for an alternative to play in Milan. Under no circumstances are we going to put our health at risk. Unless things change tomorrow, Getafe will not travel to Italy.”
Spain has already cancelled all direct flights from Italy – though not to Italy – for two weeks in a bid to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Unlike European fixtures, domestic games in Italy have been postponed until April 3.
“If we have to lose the tie, then we lose it,” said Torres. “We don’t want to run any sort of risk. We are really excited about this match but if we have to lose it, then so be it.”
UEFA have so far agreed to play a number of games behind closed doors but not postpone them altogether. No fans are being allowed at tonight’s high-profile Paris St Germain versus Borussia Dortmund last-16 Champions League clash while in the Europa League Austrian club LASK said supporters will not attend their match with Manchester United on Thursday.
In Spain, where cases have risen dramatically in the past few days, La Liga announced that the next two rounds of fixtures would be played behind closed doors. The French League followed suit, announcing that all Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches will be played without fans until April 15.
Germany’s Bundesliga is also being impacted with this Saturday’s eagerly-anticipated derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04 to go ahead without fans. “It is not a joke or about spoiling the game. This is about life or death,” said Dortmund’s mayor.
Kenya calls off AFCON qualifier
Africa, or most of it, has so far been spared the virus but the government of Kenya has called off the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualification game away to Comoros in a bid to ‘safeguard the public’ . The return home fixture for Nairobi is also in doubt after Football Kenya Federation (FKF) wrote to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) requesting a postponement on the same grounds.
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org