Coronavirus: Spanish footballers' union requests matches be postponed
- After authorities announced all sport in Spain is to be played behind closed doors, the players' union is urging a stronger stance.
The Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) has requested all matches be suspended rather than played behind closed doors following the Spanish authorities' decision to bar fans from attending sporting events amid the coronavirus crisis.
The High Council of Sports (CSD) implemented fresh measures during a meeting on Tuesday, with a LaLiga statement shortly afterwards declaring that at least the next two matchdays – starting from March 10 – will be played without spectators.
The developments came after LaLiga title-holders Barcelona announced their Champions League last-16 second leg against Napoli of Italy – the most-affected European nation – next week will be played with no fans present at Camp Nou.
But, following a request from Segunda Division side Real Zaragoza for matches to simply be postponed, Spain's players' union has written to LaLiga, CSD and the Royal Spanish Football Federation, urging competitions be halted immediately.
An AFE statement read: "The Association of Spanish Footballers has sent different letters to the High Council of Sports (CSD), Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and LaLiga in which it requests the following to these institutions in relation to the spread of COVID-19:
"Given the measures that are being taken by the government, and the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO), in relation not only to the fact of sporting events with the public, but especially to the condition of workers … we request that the measures carried out be presided over by the guarantee of minimum risk of the players of all categories.
"For this reason, we have requested the suspension of ALL matches, ALL divisions and ALL categories of both sexes.
"Given the situation, we have made this request thinking exclusively about the health of the players, the groups we represent. This fact is not taken into account, beyond which we understand it is necessary to avoid large gatherings due to the increased risk that this entails, a risk that is not only avoided with the absence of public in the matches.
"In addition, playing on pitches closed to the public for several weeks undermines the meaning of sports competitions.
"On the other hand, we want to insist on the importance of having football players informed with a fluid dialogue."
Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Spain surpassed 1,000 on Monday and 28 people have died as a result of the infection.
In Madrid - where there are 782 confirmed cases - and in the Basque country, all schools and universities have been closed in a bid to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Published 10 Mar 2020, 21:28 IST
Health is paramount. As a preventive measure, LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank will be played behind closed doors the coming two weeks (as will all sporting competitions and events in Spain.)— Joris Evers (@jorisevers) March 10, 2020