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Coronavirus: Italian Football Federation chief warns Serie A season could be suspended

18:05 EAT 07/03/2020
Napoli fans in masks, Coronavirus, COVID-19
The illness continues to wreak havoc on the country's football schedule, but more calls have been made to prioritise public safety

The president of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) has said that the governing body cannot rule out the possibility of suspending the entire season if a top-flight player were to test positive for the Coronavirus strain COVID-19.

Fears of the illness spreading unnecessarily have hit Italian football hard, with six matches being postponed last week – including Juventus' top-of-the-table clash with Inter – and rescheduled to Sunday, March 8.

Since then, Italian authorities have issued a government decree that states all sporting events must be played behind closed doors until at least April 3, but FIGC president Gabriele Gravina admits that the situation could worsen still, with the proposition of a full suspension not out of the question.

“If a Serie A player were to test positive for the Coronavirus, we would not rule out suspended the whole season,” Gravina told Rai Sport.

“We have to be realistic. In those circumstances we would have to adopt all the necessary procedures to guarantee, first and foremost, the health of our athletes, then consider what impact it can have on sporting competition.

“We cannot rule anything out at the moment but we should also try not to dream up a scenario for a situation that, at this moment, we cannot predict.”

With fixtures being postponed and rescheduled, the chaotic nature of the situation has caused much debate in Italy, but Gravina has called for those with vested interests in respective clubs to be looking at the bigger picture rather than concerning themselves with lost profits.

“Playing behind closed doors is certainly not ideal for any match,” he added. “But seeing club presidents arguing over what is in their own interests sends out a very bad message and damages Italian football.

“Anyone who only looks after their own small patch of grass is contributing to the slow death of our sporting system.”

Indeed, Inter supremo Steven Zhang has also been critical of the manner in which the situation has been handled by certain sectors, the Nerazzurri CEO having called out Serie A president Paolo Dal Pino over his handling of the crisis.

Zhang wrote on Instagram: “Playing around the calendar and always putting the public health as a secondary consideration. You are probably the biggest and darkest clown I have ever seen. 24 hours? 48 hours? 7 days? And what else? What’s your next step?

“Yes, I’m speaking to you. Our Lega President Paolo Dal Pino. Shame on you. It’s time to stand up and take your responsibility! This is what we do in 2020!

“Everybody around the world, doesn’t matter if you are Inter fan or Juve fan or no fan at all. Please be safe!”