Coronavirus: UEFA Shifts Europa League Games

UEFA has confirmed the postponement of Inter Milan vs Getafe and Sevilla vs Roma Europa League first leg, last-16 ties over coronavirus fears.

The games had been due to be played on Thursday in closed stadiums but have been postponed after Spanish authorities imposed travel restrictions between Spain and Italy.

No new dates have been fixed for the ties.

Italy has been severely hit by the coronavirus and is the worst impacted country outside China where the virus originated.

The country imposed restrictions on movement for its 60 million citizens as it grapples to contain a disease which has killed 631, with 168 new deaths recorded on Tuesday, the country’s highest single-day toll, and infected more than 10,000.

Italian authorities suspended all domestic sports events until 3 April, including Serie A matches, but Champions League and Europa League matches are not affected.

In Spain where more than 1,600 cases and 36 deaths have been reported, La Liga games are to be played behind closed doors until 15 April.

Roma had already ruled out travelling to Seville.

Getafe president Angel Torres had earlier said that “under no circumstances” would the club board a plane to Italy to honour the fixture “unless things change”.

Super Eagles midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo plays for Getafe.

“If we have to lose the tie, we will lose it,” Torres told Onda Cero radio.

The Italian and Spanish professional players’ unions also issued a joint statement on Tuesday calling on UEFA to postpone matches between teams from the two countries.

“Playing a match in Milan in the coming days will endanger the health of many people,” the joint statement read.

“The journeys between Italy and Spain will become more complicated and dangerous in the coming weeks.

“Next week’s return matches are likely to be held under emergency conditions for the two countries.

“We hope that a deep reflection on all the calendars of European competitions will be made in the light of the information which is getting worse by the hour.”

Read Also: How Europes’s Top Leagues Have Been Affected By Deadly Virus

The Europa League last-16 tie between Austrian club LASK and Manchester United will also be played behind closed doors and UEFA has said Olympiakos’s home clash with Wolverhampton Wanderers will go ahead behind closed doors despite the Greek club’s owner Evangelos Marinakis contracting coronavirus.

A footballer in Germany’s second division Timo Hubers, 23, who plays for Hannover 96 has also tested positive for the coronavirus and his team-mates, and the club’s coaches and staff had been tested as a precaution.