ROME, Feb 29 (Reuters) - Five Serie A matches which had been scheduled to go ahead behind closed doors this weekend, including the key clash between Juventus and Inter Milan, have been postponed until May because of the coronavirus crisis.
The decision, taken by the Serie A league at midday, brought a mixed reaction from coaches and officials. Here are some comments:
-"Football is about the fans, it's enthusiasm, passion, emotion, which is not there when you play behind closed doors.
"Since I've had this experience myself, I was worried all week about what it meant to play without fans. I'm glad we are not playing but they could have decided earlier," said AC Milan coach Stefano Pioli.
-"I think the authorities are trying to make the best possible decision. I trust them.
"In order not to have doubts about the normality of the sport, I think that if you play one game, then everyone has to play or, if you don't play one match, then all the others have to be stopped," said AS Roma coach Paulo Fonseca.
-"It's like a normal influenza but you still have to be careful.
"The championship? Open doors, closed doors, postponements, whatever you do, it's influenced by outside factors.
"Playing behind closed doors is the death of football, it's unreal. Those who play at home do not have the support of the public, so I do not like it. I prefer to postpone the matches and play with the fans present.
"We talk about it in the changing room but once on the pitch we think about training in the best possible way," said Sampdoria coach Claudio Ranieri.
-"I have great respect for measures to protect the health of everyone but as a sports manager, I am very concerned, especially looking at such a tight schedule of commitments.
“Making a decision at the last minute could probably have been avoided. I am now worried about the future, because we don’t want to be in the same position next week," said Inter Milan chief executive Giuseppe Marotta.
- "We have to accept the decisions that come from above, knowing that we have a significant problem in Italy. Will it be advantage for Lazio? This morning I was only focused on today's game," said Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi whose side beat Bologna 2-0 to go top in one of the unaffected matches.
- "Where is the sense in postponing until May? Closed doors or not, for me they should play and offer Italians a few hours of serenity and the world an image of tranquillity," said Matteo Salvini, leader of the right-wing opposition League party. (Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)