NOW, IT’S CLOSED DOORS FOR LA LIGA

NOW, IT’S CLOSED DOORS FOR LA LIGA

La Liga matches will be played without fans for at least the next two rounds of fixtures to try and stop the spread of the coronavirus contagion, the Spanish league confirmed yesterday.

The unprecedented call was taken in conjunction with the decision by the Spanish government’s sports council (CSD) that professional and non-professional sports events and competitions should take place behind closed doors.

“According to information from the High Council of sports, La Liga matches (including the second tier) will be played behind closed doors, starting today and for at least the next two weeks,” the league said in a statement.

“La Liga will continue to be in permanent contact with the Ministry of Health and the CSD to follow its recommendations and/or decisions, prioritising the health of fans, players, club employees and journalists due to the Covid-19 health crisis.

“For weeks, La Liga has been working on alternative plans in coordination with Uefa in case health authorities decide to suspend any match, creating a plan to play these matches.”

As of yesterday, Spain was the second-most affected European country behind Italy, with 1,646 infections and 35 deaths.

Last night’s game between Eibar and Real Sociedad was the first to be affected.

Real Madrid’s game against Eibar at the Santiago Bernabeu on Friday night will be the weekend’s first fixture to be hit as authorities step up attempts to contain the outbreak.

Two of the most prominent fixtures in the league calendar – the Valencia and Seville derbies – will also go ahead in empty stadiums as Valencia face Levante at Mestalla on Saturday before Sevilla host Real Betis at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Sunday night.

If the drastic measures are not extended, the next round of matches with supporters will take place on the weekend of April 4-5.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has also not ruled out postponing league matches, with 11 rounds remaining, if the epidemic takes a turn for the worse.

“It’s one thing to postpone a game and another not to play it,” he said. “We have the possibility of playing games behind closed doors and, if that is not possible, then we will postpone.

“If that case arises, we have dates prepared for when we can stage those games. We have presented this plan to Uefa so they can also bear in mind European ties involving Spanish teams. We are working on precaution, not improvisation.”

According to local radio station Cadena Cope, the weekend of the King’s Cup final (April 18-19) will be available for uncompleted league games, while May 19-20 has been earmarked as another possible free slot.

Spanish daily AS also quoted Cadena as saying that should there be any cancellation of games, La Liga will request that Uefa delay the start of Euro 2020, which is set to begin in Rome on June 12.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

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