March 3, 2020 / 5:40 PM / a month ago

Soccer-European clubs ban handshakes as coronavirus precaution

March 3 (Reuters) - Football clubs in Europe have begun asking players, staff and officials not to shake hands in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

English top-flight side Newcastle United banned handshakes at training sessions last week, a move that has since been mirrored by fellow Premier League clubs Southampton, West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers.

"Wolves players and staff have been asked to avoid any unnecessary meetings, lunches or other public engagements, and temporarily avoid casual fan interaction such as selfies or autographs," Wolves said in a statement here on Tuesday.

German side Borussia Dortmund have also told players and staff not to sign autographs or pose for selfies and will no longer allow members of the public at training sessions.

"This measure is being taken to protect all those in attendance at training sessions," Dortmund said on their website here

Scottish football’s governing body has instructed Scottish Premier League clubs to suspend pre-match and post-match handshakes with immediate effect, starting with Tuesday’s Edinburgh derby between Hibernian and Hearts.

“The safety of everyone involved in attending or participating in a major football event is our foremost consideration,” Scottish FA chief executive Ian Maxwell said in a statement.

“Given the developing situation locally and internationally, it is incumbent on the football authorities to speak with one voice in providing guidance and reassurance to stakeholders.”

The NBA has also asked its players to avoid taking items to autograph but allowed them to fist-bump with fans instead of high-fiving them.

There are more than 90,000 coronavirus cases globally, with more than 80,000 of them in China, and infections appearing in 77 other countries. China’s death toll is nearly 3,000. (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Toby Davis)

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