Barcelona: All upcoming football games in Spain and some in Germany will be played in empty stadiums because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Spanish league said on Tuesday that matches in the first and second divisions will be played without fans for at least two weeks. The announcement came after the government outlined a series of preventive measures being implemented to help contain the spread of the virus.
The league said it will “follow its recommendations and/or decisions, prioritising the health of fans, players, club employees, journalists, etc, due to the COVID-19 health crisis”.
The Spanish track federation also said it was told by the government of measures affecting all professional and non-professional sporting events in the country.
Spain’s health minister on Monday announced a sharp spike in coronavirus cases in and around Madrid, and said all schools in the region will close for two weeks from Wednesday. There were more than 1,200 confirmed cases in Spain on Monday, with 28 deaths and 74 people in intensive care.
The move in Spain came a day after Italy said sports events in the country, including Serie A football games and preparatory events for the Tokyo Olympics, would be suspended until April 3.
Champions League matches are also being affected in Spain, including next week’s game between Barcelona and Napoli at the Camp Nou Stadium.
In Germany, the Bundesliga will stage its first games without spectators this week. Borussia Moenchengladbach said their match against Cologne on Wednesday would take place in an empty stadium. On Saturday, Borussia Dortmund will face Schalke in one of German football’s fiercest local rivalries without fans.
Dortmund will also play at Paris St-Germain in the Champions League on Wednesday without fans under measures previously imposed by French authorities.
Sports around the world have been affected by the virus, including a major tennis tournament scheduled for this week in California and many Olympic qualifying events.