MILAN: Sampdoria’s Serie A match with Hellas Verona has become the sixth match this week to be postponed, Italy’s top flight announced on Sunday as the coronavirus outbreak plays havoc with the country’s football calendar.
In a statement, the league said that the match had been rescheduled for May 13 alongside the five other games from this week’s round that had already been shelved due to the spread of the Covid-19 virus, which has killed 34 and infected over 1,600 people in the country.
Among those was Juventus’ huge clash with title rivals Inter Milan in Turin, originally scheduled to be the showpiece match on Sunday evening.
The decision from Serie A came just hours after the president of Samp’s home region Liguria told reporters that the match would be played behind closed doors following a summit by regional government, health and civil protection officials.
It also follows shortly after the Italian government signed a decree that stops sporting activity in the northern regions of Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna (and two other provinces in Liguria and Le Marche) which have been worst hit by the virus until March 8, unless it is held behind closed doors.
Juventus then confirmed that the decree means fans not from those areas will be able to travel to the Allianz Stadium in Turin to watch the second leg of their Italian Cup semi-final with AC Milan on Wednesday.
On Sunday, Serie A also announced that it has called an emergency meeting for Wednesday in which discussions will be held on how to manage the fixture chaos.
The league now has 10 matches to reorganise after four were postponed from last week’s round, and the government’s decree means another five next week can only be played behind closed doors.
Reports in Italy suggest that Serie A clubs are trying to convince the league to find individual dates for each match rather than play them all on May 13.
Other sports in Italy have also been hit hard by the spread of the coronavirus.
A Six Nations rugby match between Italy and Ireland in Dublin on March 7 has been called off, and the alpine skiing World Cup Finals — due to take place in Cortina d’Ampezzo this month — will be held without any fans on the slopes.