There was chaos before the Serie A game between Parma and Spal on Sunday.
The game, which was playing behind closed doors due to the Coronavirus outbreak, was expected to kick off at 12:30 local time.
Players from both sides had completed their warm-ups and were waiting in the tunnel ready to walk out.
However, just minutes before kick-off, the referees were instructed to delay kick-off as Italy’s sports minister, Vicnenzo Spadafora, said the country’s FA should suspend games.
“It makes no sense at this moment, while we ask our citizens for enormous sacrifices to prevent the spread of the contagion, to risk the health of players, referees, coaches, fans who will certainly gather to see games, just to protect the interests that revolve around the sport,” he said, per ESPN.
“Other Federations have wisely decided to suspend football for the next few days. I think it is the duty of the FIGC President Gabriele Gravina to reflect again, without waiting for the first case of a Serie A player infected, before taking on this very serious responsibility.”
Thus, players were forced to wait around for over 30 minutes as Serie A made a decision.
But in the end, they decided to ignore the calls from Spadafora and the game would go ahead.
Players went out to warm up once again and the game eventually went ahead at 13:45 local time.
The rest of Serie A games scheduled for Sunday, including the crucial top of the table clash between Juventus and Inter Milan, will also go ahead.
But, with so many more games to go before the end of the season and the Coronavirus outbreak sweeping across the country, it’s seeming increasingly likely that Serie A will not finish this year.
Mario Balotelli is one player who has backed calls for the Serie A season to be cancelled.
“Money isn’t worth our health, we have to wake up,” he said, per Goal.
“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.”
Well said, Mario.
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