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Coronavirus forces Inter


The FC guys discuss Lazio’s chances of winning the Scudetto as they trail Juventus by just one point.

The Italian government is moving toward having football matches played behind closed doors in affected areas as authorities try to contain a spreading virus that has made northern Italy the focal point of the outbreak in Europe.

Thursday’s Europa League match at San Siro between Inter Milan and Ludogorets was the first to be confirmed as going ahead in an empty stadium, with the Italian club releasing a statement on Monday night.

Bulgarian side Ludogorets added that UEFA has said it is monitoring the situation and will react immediately if anything changes.

Serie A president Paolo Dal Pinto sent a letter to the government on Monday asking that games no longer be postponed in the affected areas but played without fans in attendance — noting there is little time for make-up dates considering all elite competitions must be completed by May 24 because of the upcoming European Championship.

Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora also proposed the closed-door plan to Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte — although no final decision had been made.

“Playing all sports behind closed doors for the next week could be possible, because then fans can more easily stay at home,” said Maurizio Casasco, the president of the Italian federation for sports physicians. “But the clubs have to be in agreement.

“There’s more than just football in Italy. It’s an issue that regards all sports.”

Four Serie A games scheduled for the previous round on Sunday were postponed, including Inter Milan’s game against Sampdoria at San Siro Stadium.

Also Monday, the first board meeting for the Milan-Cortina Olympics was changed to a video conference instead of being held in Milan. Members of the newly created board of directors for the 2026 Games called in from their respective offices in the Lombardy and Veneto regions, the areas hardest hit by the virus, the Italian Olympic Committee said.

Turin-based Juventus are scheduled to host Inter (Live on ESPN+, Sunday, 2:45 p.m. ET). Other games scheduled for northern Italy next weekend include Udinese vs. Fiorentina on Saturday and AC Milan vs. Genoa on Sunday.

Lyon was in contact with UEFA and French authorities over concern about the 2,500-3,000 Juventus fans traveling over the border to a Champions League game in the French city on Wednesday.

Juventus shares fell 11% on the Milan stock exchange in early trading on Monday, forcing a suspension in trading. Juventus also announced its museum at the Allianz Stadium would remain closed through Saturday. Stadium tours also were suspended.

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