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Italian football: FIVE Serie A matches postponed until May including Juventus and Inter Milan'

Updated: Mar 1


Coronavirus is wreaking havoc in Italian football as five matches this weekend, including the potential title-deciding clash between Juventus and Inter Milan, have been called off.


Certain matches in the north of the country were due to be played behind closed doors but they have now been postponed.


The potential title clash between Juventus and Inter Milan has now been moved to May 13 along with four other matches.


Other fixtures postponed are Milan v Genoa, Parma v SPAL, Udinese v Fiorentina and Sasssuolo v Brescia.


Other matches at Lazio, Napoli, Lecce and Cagliari will go ahead as usual.

But Italian officials are yet to decide on Sampdoria's match on Monday.


The Coppa Italia final had been schedule for May 13 but reports in Italy have suggested that will now be put back to May 20.


The rescheduling of Juventus v Inter Milan could have a bearing on the season, with Antonio Conte's side currently six points behind the league leaders with a game in hand.


The chance to close the gap has now been squandered and the title could well be wrapped up by the time they meet in May.


Last weekend, four games were cancelled as officials looked to stymie the spread, including Inter Milan's game against Sampdoria.


Inter then played Ludogrets in front of an empty stadium after authorities ordered fans to stay away.


The club's director Giuseppe Marotta said he is 'very worried' that more cancellations will follow, saying: 'We must ensure Serie A is played regularly and competitively.'


He told Sky Sports Italia: 'As a club, we are faced with a sudden change of direction. I am already worried and looking forward, because if the regions should be locked down until March 8, I ask myself how we're going to be able to work out next week's games, for example Atalanta-Lazio, Bologna-Juventus, etc.


'It's a surreal experience playing behind closed doors, damaging to the teams and above all the fans. I honestly don't see any other way out than to cancel next week's fixtures too. This is why we need an emergency meeting as soon as possible.'


Marotta then went on to criticise the late timing of the cancellation, saying the clubs should have been given more notice.


Italy has the largest coronavirus outbreak in Europe with more than 650 people infected and 17 deaths.


On Friday, three players from third-division club US Pianese tested positive for the strain.


'At the moment those infected are four, three players and a team official,' the Siena-based club said in a statement.


A number of towns in the north of the country have been put on lockdown in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.


This weekend's matches in the top two divisions in Switzerland had already been postponed after the government banned all events involving more than 1,000 people.


FIFA president Gianni Infantino promised on Friday to do whatever is necessary to help combat the continued spread of the virus.


Speaking in Belfast ahead of the annual general meeting of the International Football Association Board, Infantino said: 'The health of persons is much more important than any football game.


'That's why we have to look at the situation and hope that it will decrease rather than increase.


'At the moment it looks like it is still increasing. If games have to be postponed or played without spectators until it is over, then we have to go through that.'


The outbreak is yet to afflict English football but preventative measures are in place, with Newcastle boss Steve Bruce banning handshakes at the training ground.


German giants Bayern Munich have also take precautions, releasing a statement that said they have told players 'not to sign autographs for the time being' and 'not to be available for photos or selfies with the fans', amid fears coronavirus could spread.


Valencia have also cancelled all 'non-sporting first team activities' including press conferences around this weekend's game at Mestalla in the wake of the outbreak.


Elsewhere in Spain, Real Madrid have made their move to help out Chinese Super League side Wuhan Zall, after the team have been stranded there following a pre-season training camp.


Wuhan headed to the Spanish capital to test their abilities in Europe and prepare for the upcoming Chinese season, before getting caught up in the throes of the coronavirus outbreak which has dominated the headlines.


After being effectively stranded in the Spanish capital awaiting the green light to return home, the entire team and management staff have been invited to El Clascio by Real Madrid.


Meanwhile global football players' union FIFPro has revealed fears among its members of being made to play in 'high-risk environments' due to the virus.


'FIFPRO is concerned for the safety of players who may be exposed to the coronavirus (COVID-19), and the danger of football acting as a vehicle to spread disease,' its statement read.


Meanwhile Danish cyclist Michael Morkov has been cleared to race at the UCI Track Cycling World Championships after two individuals suspected of having the coronavirus at the UAE Tour tested negative for the disease.


Morkov, 34, had spent 34 hours in isolation in Berlin after travelling to the German capital from the UAE Tour, where he contested the opening four stages before leaving the race early.


The final two stages of that race were cancelled on Thursday night when two members of staff on the race developed symptoms suggesting they could have the virus, and riders and staff on the race remain under lockdown in Abu Dhabi.


But, after the Abu Dhabi Department of Health issued a statement on Saturday saying the first 167 tests had come back negative, the UCI said Morkov was free to race as normal in Berlin.


Next month's World Triathlon Series event in Abu Dhabi has also been postponed as a precautionary measure.


The event was due to take place from March 5 to March 7 in the city, which has reported new cases of the virus.


Event organisers said they still hoped to reschedule the event to take place later in March or April.

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