SHARE
COPY LINK

FOOTBALL

Coronavirus: Italian Serie A football matches to be played in empty stadiums

Upcoming matches in Italian Serie A and the Europa League will be played behind closed doors to combat the spread of coronavirus, the Italian sports minister announced late on Monday.

Coronavirus: Italian Serie A football matches to be played in empty stadiums
Milan's San Siro stadium. File photo: AFP

“Following the demands of the sports world and knowing that the ban on sporting events open to the public remains in force in six regions of northern Italy, we have agreed to the holding of matches behind closed doors,” said Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora after a meeting of the Council of Ministers.

Inter Milan themselves announced their Europa League match with Ludogorets on Thursday would be played with no fans present.

MAP: Which parts of Italy are most affected by coronavirus outbreak?

In agreement with UEFA, the Lombardy regional health authorities and Milan city council, our return game with Ludogorets will be played behind closed doors,” an Inter statement said.

The sports minister did not specify which Serie A matches at the weekend would be included in the ban.

There are six games in the regions he mentioned, including the clash on Sunday evening between leader Juventus and third-place Inter.

Italy reported its seventh death from the virus on Monday and the number of confrmed cases currently stands at 229, the most in Europe.

Eleven towns – 10 in Lombardy and one in neighbouring Veneto – are under lockdown, with some 50,000 residents prohibited from leaving.

READ ALSO: 'A strange, absurd situation': Life in Italy's coronavirus 'red zone'

An empty street in Codogno, Lombardy, one of the towns under lockdown. Photo: AFP

Napoli's Champions League match against Barcelona on Tuesday is not at risk.

The alternative to banning fans is to postpone games. Gabriele Gravina, the president of the Italian Football League made clear earlier in the day that he was opposed to that.

“We have made an official request to Health Minister Roberto Speranza to have this game played behind closed doors,” Gravina told the press. “We expect a quick response, but we have been told that the outcome will be positive.”

Other sports were also hit with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) confirming that in line with government instructions, all events in the Lombardy and Veneto regions would be postponed.

Regional authorities have ordered gathering spots, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas and discos to close.

The spread of the virus has disrupted other high-profile events including Milan Fashion Week and the Venice Carnival while Serie A football matches have been postponed. Operas have also had to be cancelled at Milan's famed La Scala.

 
Production of the latest “Mission: Impossible” film starring Tom Cruise has also been halted in Venice as a precaution, Paramount Pictures said on Monday.
 

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

As the infection rate rises sharply across the country, Italian virologists are calling for concerts and festivals to be rescheduled.

Covid-19: Are Italian live events at risk of being postponed?

Italy has seen a large increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in recent days, so much so that a number of virologists across the country are now urging the government to postpone major live events in a bid to curb infections. 

According to a new report by Italy’s independent health watchdog, the Gimbe Foundation, 595,349 new cases were recorded in the week from June 29th to July 5th; a worrying 55 percent increase on the previous week. 

In the same time span, the country also registered a 32.8 percent rise in the number of hospitalised patients, which went from 6,035 to 8,003.  

The latest Covid wave, which is being driven by the highly contagious Omicron 5 variant, is a “real cause for concern”, especially in terms of a “potential patient overload”, said Nino Cartabellotta, president of the Gimbe Foundation. 

As Italian cities prepare to host a packed calendar of concerts and festivals this summer, health experts are questioning whether such events should actually take place given the high risk of transmission associated with mass gatherings.

READ ALSO: What tourists in Italy need to know if they get Covid-19

“Rescheduling these types of events would be the best thing to do right now,” said Massimo Ciccozzi, Director of Epidemiology at Campus Bio-Medico University of Rome. 

The summer wave is expected to peak in mid-July but, Ciccozzi warns, the upcoming live events might “delay [the peak] until the end of July or even beyond” and extend the infection curve.

Antonello Maruotti, Professor of Statistics at LUMSA University of Rome, recently shared Ciccozzi’s concerns, saying that live events as big as Maneskin’s scheduled Rome concert are “definitely not a good idea”. 

The Italian rock band are slated to perform at the Circus Maximus on Saturday, July 9th but the expected turnout – over 70,000 fans are set to attend the event – has raised objections from an array of Italian doctors, with some warning that the concert might cause as many as 20,000 new cases.

If it were to materialise, the prospected scenario would significantly aggravate Lazio’s present medical predicament as there are currently over 186,000 Covid cases in the region (nearly 800 patients are receiving treatment in local hospitals). 

Italian rock band Maneskin performing in Turin

Italian rock band Maneskin are expected to perform at the Circus Maximus in Rome on Saturday, July 9th. Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

But, despite pleas to postpone the event, it is likely that Maneskin’s concert will take place as scheduled.

Alessandro Onorato, Rome’s Tourism Councillor, said that rescheduling is “out of question” and that “all recommendations from the local medical authorities will be adopted” with the help of the event’s organisers and staff on the ground.

At the time of writing, there is also no indication that the Italian government will consider postponing other major live events scheduled to take place in the coming weeks, though the situation is evolving rapidly and a U-turn on previous dispositions can’t be ruled out.

READ ALSO: At a glance: What are the Covid-19 rules in Italy now?

On this note, it is worth mentioning that Italy has now scrapped all of its former Covid measures except the requirement to wear FFP2 face masks on public transport (though not on planes) and in healthcare settings.

The use of face coverings is, however, still recommended in all crowded areas, including outdoors – exactly the point that leading Italian doctors are stressing in the hope that live events will not lead to large-scale infection.

Antonio Magi, President of Rome’s OMCEO (College of Doctors, Surgeons and Dentists), said: “Our advice is to wear FFP2 masks […] in high-risk situations.”

“I hope that young people will heed our recommendations and think about the health risks that their parents or grandparents might be exposed to after the event [they attend].”

SHOW COMMENTS