(Reuters) - UEFA postponed two of Thursday’s Europa League ties after one side, Spain’s Getafe, refused to travel to Italy because of the coronavirus outbreak and another, AS Roma, said they had been denied permission to travel to Spain.
The European governing soccer body said in a statement that further decisions would be communicated in due course on arrangements for the round of 16 first leg matches between Inter Milan and Getafe and Sevilla against Roma.
Spain on Tuesday decided to cancel all direct flights from Italy — though not to Italy — for two weeks in a bid to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Roma said on Twitter they would not travel “after the plane from Italy was not authorised to land in Spain.”
Earlier, Getafe president Angel Torres told reporters his club refused to travel to Italy for their game at Inter, even if it meant they were kicked out of the competition.
The region of Lombardy, where Milan is located, is at the epicentre of Europe’s worst coronavirus outbreak which has prompted the Italian government to impose a nationwide lockdown.
The match at San Siro was due to be played without fans.
“We’re not going to play, we’re not going to travel to Italy, that has been decided,” Torres told reporters outside the club’s stadium.
“I can guarantee that we will not travel to Italy. UEFA will decide what happens next.”
The Getafe chief earlier told Onda Cero radio the club had asked the Spanish soccer federation to postpone the game, also requesting that the match be moved away from Italy.
“We have looked for an alternative to playing in Milan. We don’t want to be in the focal point of the coronavirus outbreak, we don’t need that. We have also asked the (Spanish) federation to demand the suspension,” he said.
“If we have to lose the tie, then we lose it. We don’t want to run any sort of risk. We are really excited about this match but if we have to lose it, then so be it.”
UEFA also confirmed two other matches — LASK v Manchester United and Eintracht Frankfurt v Basel — will go ahead as scheduled but spectators will not be allowed to attend.
LASK said on Tuesday that the match would be played in an empty stadium after the Austrian government banned outdoor events of more than 500 people.
Writing by Brian Homewood and Richard Martin, additional reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford, Ken Ferris and Toby Davis