Sports News

Italian PM Conte says inappropriate to let fans into stadiums

FILE PHOTO: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte attends a session of the upper house of parliament, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Rome, Italy, July 28, 2020. REUTERS/Remo Casilli/File Photo

ROME (Reuters) - Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has dampened hopes that spectators would be allowed to attend football matches from the start of the new season, saying on Saturday that it would be inappropriate at the present time.

Italy, hit by one of Europe’s worst outbreaks of COVID-19, contained the contagion after a peak in fatalities in March and April. But the number of new cases rose in August, with experts blaming gatherings associated with holidays and night life.

“The presence (of fans) at the stadium and events where any large gathering is inevitable, not only in the stands but also in the entrance and exit phases, is absolutely inappropriate,” Conte said at an event organised by the Il Fatto Quotidiano newspaper.

The new Serie A season starts on Sept 19.

Some events have been held with spectators in the last month, however, and Parma will be allowed 1,000 fans for a pre-season friendly against Empoli on Sunday following a decision by the municipal government.

Napoli and Sampdoria have also played friendly matches in front of small crowds, although not in their own stadiums.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Hugh Lawson