March 1, 2020 / 7:46 PM / a month ago

Soccer-Sampdoria match ordered to be played behind closed doors

March 1 (Reuters) - The president of Italy’s Liguria region has ordered Monday’s Serie A match between Sampdoria and Verona in Genoa to be played behind closed doors because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The match was one of five Serie A games which were allowed to go ahead with spectators between Feb. 29 and March 2 by the Italian government but Liguria head Giovanni Toti said he did not want to take any unnecessary risks.

The death toll from an outbreak of coronavirus in Italy has risen to 34, five more than a day earlier, officials said on Sunday, while the number of confirmed cases was 1,694.

“Playing Samp-Verona with open doors would be a serious risk, because Genoa has not had any contagion so far, so it would have seemed inappropriate and imprudent to give access to the public,” Toti told reporters, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport and other media.

Verona are from one of the six regions in Italy where sports events have been banned by the government.

Five Serie A matches, initially scheduled to be played behind closed doors, were postponed by the league on Saturday because the clubs did not want to play in empty stadiums.

Toti said it was up to Serie A if they also wanted to postpone the Sampdoria match.

There was no immediate comment from Serie A. (Writing by Brian Homewood; editing by Ken Ferris)

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