Barcelona’s game against Napoli in the Champions League next week will be played behind closed doors as coronavirus continues to spread across Europe, the club confirmed on Tuesday.
Barca met with local government officials on Tuesday and quickly reached a decision to play the match against the Italian side without supporters. Barcelona drew 1-1 at Napoli in the first leg.
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It becomes the latest Champions League game to fall victim to the virus after it was announced on Monday that Paris Saint-Germain’s match against Borussia Dortmund this week will also be played in an empty stadium.
Valencia’s match against Atalanta on Tuesday and Juventus’ game against Lyon next week will also be played behind closed doors. Chelsea’s trip to Bayern Munich is also expected to be played without supporters, although there has been no official confirmation.
RB Leipzig vs. Tottenham, Liverpool vs. Atletico Madrid and Manchester City vs. Real Madrid are, as things stand, going ahead without restrictions.
A number of fixtures have also been affected in the Europa League this week, including AS Roma at Sevilla, Wolverhampton Wanderers at Olympiakos and Getafe at Inter Milan. Gdansk will host the Europa League final and on Tuesday it was announced that all games in the Polish top flight will be played behind closed doors until further notice.
The Catalan secretary for sport, Gerard Figueras, said on Monday that “caution would advise” Barca closed Camp Nou for Napoli’s visit on March 18.
That decision, sources explained, became a much easier one to take once Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte announced lockdown measures for the entire country on Monday.
All public gatherings and events in Italy — including the Italian top flight, Serie A — have been suspended until at least April 3 as the country grapples to control Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus.
Meanwhile, sources have explained to ESPN that La Liga will make a decision this week on whether games moving forward should be played behind closed doors.
The next game, Real Madrid against Eibar at the Bernabeu on Friday, comes on the back of the announcement that all schools and education centres in the Spanish capital will be closed for the next two weeks in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.
In France, the sports minister Roxana Maracineanu has said that until April 15, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 matches (France’s two fully professional football leagues) will either be played behind closed doors or with 1,000 spectators depending on the wishes of the organiser.
Germany’s Bundesliga is also studying the possibility of playing all fixtures behind closed doors, with Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Cologne the first match to be officially announced with preventative measures in place.
Talks have taken place in England, too, about a contingency plan if coronavirus continues to spread but there are no plans to place restrictions on supporters or cancel games in the short-term.