Coppa Italia semifinal matches postponed over coronavirus concerns


A desolate Turin Stadium. (Source: File Photo)

The Coppa Italia semi-final second-leg match between Juventus and AC Milan and Napoli and Inter Milan on Wednesday were postponed indefinitely because of concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, the city government said on Tuesday.

Sports events have been banned in three regions of Italy — Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna — plus two provinces although top-flight soccer matches can go ahead behind closed doors, an option which the Serie A league has preferred not to use.

The Piedmont region where Turin is located was exempted from the ban on Sunday and Juventus immediately said the game would go ahead with spectators, although those from Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna would be barred under the government ruling.

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However, Turin prefect Claudio Palomba told the Gazzetta dello Sport in a video on Tuesday that the city council had decided to call off the match.

The decision came as the Civil Protection Agency said that 27 people had died of the highly contagious illness in Italy over the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of dead to 79, while the number of cases rose to 2,502.

Palomba said it was not practical to determine who was from the affected regions and who was a local. “It is not always possible to identify where people come from at the entrance to the stadium,” he said.

The city government also said in a statement that “40,000 tickets have already been sold, with inevitable gatherings to control the entry to the stadium.” Health authorities have urged people to keep at least one metre apart.

It is the 12th game to be postponed since the crisis began and the third involving Inter Milan.

The only match to have been played behind closed doors was the Europa League game between Inter Milan and Bulgarian side Ludogorets Razgrad, which was organised by UEFA.

The decision came as Serie A was holding a meeting to try and find a coherent, long-term way of dealing with the situation.