On Tuesday, news broke that half of the Coppa Italia semi-final second leg, between Juventus and AC Milan was postponed due to safety concerns over the coronavirus. The game was scheduled to be played on Wednesday, March 4th, with the game all tied up at 1-1. There has been no date announced yet as to when this fixture will be played. This is now Juventus’ second game in a row postponed due to the virus.
OFFICIAL | Juventus-Milan postponed, date to be confirmed.— JuventusFC (@juventusfcen) March 3, 2020
Less than 24 hours later, it was announced that the other Coppa Italia semi-final between Napoli and Inter Milan was postponed due to safety concerns surrounding the virus. Napoli has a 1-0 advantage going into the second leg courtesy of a stunning Ruiz curler. This is also Inter’s second game in a row called off due to the Coronavirus as they were scheduled to play Juventus over the weekend.
The Italian government has already announced a suspension of all sporting events in the regions affected by the virus until March 8th. However, the ban will also affect more Serie A fixtures for the third successive round of games. Atalanta vs Lazio, Inter Milan vs Sassuolo, Hellas Verona vs Napoli and Bologna vs Juventus are all affected by the ban.
This is cause for further concern as all football fixtures must be played by May 24th due to the upcoming European Championship. It may come to the point where Italian teams are playing at least two games a week, which will certainly hinder their performances. Five Serie A teams are also in the knockout stages of the European competitions; with Juventus, Atalanta and Napoli in the Champions League, and Roma and Inter Milan still playing in the Europa League. If these teams continue being successful in their retrospective competitions, then their fixtures will slowly start to pile up.
The Italian Sports Minister announced today that there is a high possibility that all Italian games will be played behind closed doors next month and even the rest of the season, until they can contain the virus. When asked if the Serie A may not be completed this season, Inter’s CEO said to Italian newspaper Le Gazzetta dello Sport on Sunday, that “If more matches are called off then, yes, we run that risk”.
The severe outbreak in Italy could have a domino effect on the European Championships, which are scheduled to start on June 12th. The first game of the competition being played at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. This stadium hosts three group stage games and also one of the quarter-final matches.
Serie A isn’t the only league to be majorly affected by the virus; the Swiss Super League has suspended all fixtures until March 23rd. The International Champions Cup which is an annual club competition, that features teams from Europe playing pre-season friendly matches has cancelled matches scheduled to take place in Asia this summer.
It is clear that Football Associations are taking the necessary and precautionary steps in order to stop the spread of the Coronavirus. There is uncertainty about the upcoming weeks in whether games will be played or not, however the big question is, how much of an effect will the outbreak have on the game all around the world?