Coronavirus: La Liga, French club matches & Barca Champions League game behind closed doors

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March 11, 2020
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    Barcelona v Napoli

    Barcelona drew 1-1 with Napoli in the first leg of their last-16 tie

    Matches in the top two divisions in Spain and France are to be played behind closed doors because of coronavirus concerns.

    La Liga announced its ruling will affect the next two rounds of fixtures while the French league said fans will be banned until 15 April.

    La Liga said it acted on guidance from Spain’s ministry of health.

    The French government announced on Sunday a ban on all gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

    In Germany, Borussia Monchengladbach’s Bundesliga tie against Cologne on Wednesday night will take place behind close doors, as will five of the nine top-flight matches over the weekend.

    Union Berlin’s match against Bayern Munich on Saturday will go ahead with fans present, but the status of the other three games is yet to be decided.

    Germany’s health minister Jens Spahn has called for gatherings of more than 1,000 people to be cancelled and several regional governments have issued such bans.

    Barcelona’s Champions League match against Napoli on 18 March will also be played at an empty Nou Camp.

    “The decision has been made strictly for health reasons,” said Joan Guix, Catalunya government’s health chief.

    It is the second Spanish-Italian Champions League fixture at which supporters have been banned, following Valencia versus Atalanta on Tuesday.

    Sevilla’s match against Roma and Getafe’s game with Inter Milan in the Europa League have suffered the same fate.

    Paris St-Germain’s Champions League match against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday will also be closed to fans.

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    The Spanish players’ union AFE have called for the suspension of all men’s and women’s football in the country.

    In letters to the Higher Sports Council, Spanish football federation (RFEF) and La Liga, it said the request was “exclusively about the health of the players” the body represents.

    “In addition, playing in stadiums closed to the public for several weeks undermines the meaning of sports competitions,” AFE added.

    All sport in Italy has been suspended until at least 3 April because of coronavirus. The ruling includes Serie A matches but not Italian clubs or national teams participating in international competitions.

    Germany’s international friendly with Italy in Nuremberg on 31 March will also be played behind closed doors. England are due to play Italy at Wembley four days earlier.

    Manchester United’s Europa League last-16 first leg match at LASK Linz in Austria on Thursday is another match that will be played without fans.


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