Mario Balotelli has echoed calls from Italy’s Players’ Association to postpone football while coronavirus fears remain rife around the country.
More than 5000 cases of COVID-19 have been discovered in one of the world’s hotspots for the new disease, with approximately 233 deaths in the nation.
The Lombardy region has been particularly hard hit, with Damiano Tommasi, president of the AIC, calling for the game to be stopped for the moment.
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“Let’s stop the league!! Do we need anything else? Stop football!!” he wrote.
Balotelli, who plays with Brescia in the virus-hit region, added his weight to the campaign with an impassioned post.
“I agree with you 100%,” he wrote. “Money isn’t worth our health, we have to wake up. Don’t write rubbish to me like: 'But you are protected! What difference does it make if you play or not? Nothing happens to you behind closed doors! Don’t take away the only fun that people have at the weekend in the red zones!'
“I LOVE FOOTBALL MORE THAN YOU… but playing means travelling by bus, train, aeroplane, sleeping in a hotel, in any case entering into contact with other people outside of your working environment…
“I already don’t get to see my children because of this damned coronavirus, because as you know they do not live in Lombardy, so it’s already infuriating and sad.
“I certainly don’t want my mother, who I see and eat with almost every day, to catch anything from me. She is not the same age as me and as much as I love football (which I owe everything to), I won’t risk her getting ill!
“Why would I? To entertain someone else? Or to stop them losing money? Don’t be ridiculous! GET OVER YOURSELVES, WE’VE HAD ENOUGH NOW. Guys, you can’t joke around with health.”
The next two rounds of Serie A have been pushed back by a week, while the scheduled card of fixtures for last weekend, including Juventus’ vital clash with Inter, will be played this weekend.
Meanwhile, all games will be played behind closed doors until at least April 3.