Coronavirus: UEFA Postpones Two Europa Games


The fear of Coronavirus has again forced the postponement of the Europa League ties between Sevilla and Roma in Spain and Inter Milan’s against Getafe in Italy.

Both last-16 first-leg games were due to be played behind closed doors on Thursday but have been called off after Spanish authorities imposed travel restrictions between Spain and Italy.

Uefa said it will communicate further decisions on both games in due course.

Roma had already said they would not be travelling to Seville.

Getafe president Angel Torres earlier said his club were refusing to travel to Italy for the game, even if it meant they were kicked out of the competition.

On Tuesday, Italian side Atalanta’s Champions League game at Valencia went on as planned.

Italy has the most cases outside China with more than 10,000 and the entire country has been placed in lockdown.

Some 60 million Italians have been told to stay at home in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The region of Lombardy, where Milan is located, is at the epicentre of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak.

Serie A, along with all sport in Italy, is currently suspended till April 3 but this does not include Italian clubs or national teams participating in international competitions.

On Tuesday, the Spanish government decided to refuse entry to planes from Italy but Uefa requested an exception on behalf of Roma.

That request was denied by the Spanish government on Wednesday.

The Spanish (AFE) and Italian (AIC) players’ unions have asked Uefa that games between Italian and Spanish teams be suspended.

The AFE has also called for the suspension of all matches in Spain instead of having them played behind closed doors.

The first leg of Manchester United’s Europa League last-16 tie at LASK in Austria on Thursday will be played behind closed doors, as will Chelsea’s Champions League last-16 tie at Bayern Munich on 18 March.

Wolves’ Europa League last-16 first-leg match at Olympiakos on Thursday will also be played in a near-empty stadium, as will Rangers’ second-leg tie at Bayer Leverkusen on 19 March in the same competition.

Uefa rejected Wolves’ request to postpone the match in Greece – which the club said was an “unnecessary risk”.

The disease, which can cause a fever, cough and breathing problems, is spreading around the world and has already affected more than 116,000 people.

Scientists have confirmed it takes an average of five days for symptoms to show.

Also on Wednesday, the French League Cup final between Paris St-Germain and Lyon – set for Saturday, 4 April at the Stade de France – was postponed because of the outbreak.

“A new date will be set depending on the evolution of the sanitary situation and on both club’s future in European competitions,” the French League said in a statement.

In Germany, Hannover 96 confirmed defender Timo Hubers, 23, had tested positive for the coronavirus and his team-mates, and the club’s coaches and staff had been tested as a precaution.

Hannover sporting director Gerhard Zuber said Hubers is in self-isolation and confirmed that the club’s second division fixture with Dynamo Dresden on Sunday will go ahead as planned.

Fifpro, the world players’ union, have also issued a statement on coronavirus, saying that “the football industry should consider extraordinary solidarity measures to protect the industry and support clubs”.

“Professional footballers are concerned about themselves, their families and friends being exposed to coronavirus,” the statement added.

“For players their exposure could come during travel, training and match days. Any actions relating to these activities must be co-ordinated in close co-operation with players and their unions.”