CORONAVIRUS

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.

Coronavirus: Spanish footballers' union requests matches be postponed

The Association of Spanish Footballers (AFE) has requested that 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.

At least next two rounds of LaLiga to be played behind closed doors

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 10 March - 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.

"We have requested the suspension of ALL matches, ALL divisions and ALL categories of both sexes"

But, following a request from Segunda División side Real Zaragoza for matches to simply be postponed, Spain's players' union has written to LaLiga, the CSD and the 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), 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."

Number of Coronavirus cases in Spain now over 1,000

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.