• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Coronavirus: LaLiga, Barcelona v Napoli games to be played behind closed doors

Real Madrid-LaLiga

LaLiga have confirmed that the next two matchdays in Spain’s top two divisions will be played behind closed doors due to the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Coronavirus has already led to the cancellation of a number of sporting events throughout the world, with Italy’s Serie A suspended until April 3.

Spain’s government has taken the decision to remove fans from LaLiga Santander and LaLiga Smartbank matches for the 28th and 29th matchdays in the top division and the 32nd and 33rd in the second tier.

LaLiga did in fact release a statement explaining the situation on Tuesday morning.

It is expected the measures will come into effect as soon as Tuesday’s LaLiga match between Eibar and Real Sociedad at Ipurua.

Osasuna had earlier suspended ticket sales for the game against Sociedad on Sunday, with a message on their website telling fans to await further updates.

The news comes after Barcelona announced that their Champions League last-16, second leg against Napoli will be held behind closed doors next week.

However, as of early on Tuesday, there were no plans to hold Liverpool’s match with Atletico Madrid at Anfield this Wednesday without fans present.

Some of the LaLiga matches to be affected are the derby between Sevilla and Real Betis, Atletico Madrid’s trip to Athletic Bilbao, Real Madrid’s home match with Valencia and Barcelona games against Real Mallorca and Leganes.

Joris Evers, LaLiga’s chief communications officer, said on Twitter: “Health is paramount. As a preventive measure, LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank will be played behind closed doors the coming two weeks (as will all sporting competitions and events in Spain).”

Confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Spain had jumped to 1,024 on Monday, close to double the number recorded on Sunday. Twenty-eight people have died.

In Madrid – where there are 782 confirmed cases – and in the Basque country, all schools and universities have been closed in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19.

LaLiga has seen this eventual outcome as likely for a number of weeks now, and have been working on alternative plans in co-ordination with UEFA in case the health authorities in Spain have to suspend any of the matches that are already planned.

This actually impacts the Seville derby that is scheduled to be played on Sunday between Sevilla and Real Betis at the Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.

Real Madrid will be most affected by the measure as they have two home matches during this period, first against Eibar on Friday, then against Valencia the week after.

All other LaLiga Santander sides will only have one home match over the two matchdays.

Also, The Champions League Round of 16 return leg at Camp Nou next week betweenBarcelona and Napoli will be staged behind closed doors. The move came after a meeting held between members of the football club and a team of representatives from local Catalan government.

This will be the second time in the past few years that Camp Nou will be empty following the decision by the club to stage the LaLiga clash on October 1st 2017 against Las Palmas without fans following civil unrest in the region and city.