Europa League games in a bind due to travel restrictions
AS Roma's match at Sevilla has become one the latest Europa League ties to be postponed due to the coronavirus threat, after the Italian side said they could not travel to Spain for their last-16, first leg tomorrow morning (Singapore time), while Getafe's match at Inter Milan was also pushed back.
Spain had cancelled all direct flights from Italy - though not to Italy - for two weeks in a bid to stop the spread of the virus.
"AS Roma will not travel to Spain for the Europa League match against Sevilla after the plane from Italy was not authorised to land in Spain," said a statement on the club's Twitter account yesterday. Uefa later announced that both games will be rescheduled.
Earlier, Getafe president Angel Torres told reporters his club refused to travel to Italy for their game at Inter Milan, 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 worse coronavirus outbreak which has prompted the Italian government to impose a nationwide lockdown.
The match at San Siro is due to be played without fans.
"We're not going to play, we're not going to travel to Italy, that has been decided," said Torres.
"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 football 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."
Italy has restricted movement for its 60 million citizens as the country's number of infected cases surged to over 10,000, while Spain has more than 1,600.
Meanwhile, Uefa turned down Wolverhampton Wanderers' request to postpone their Europa League last-16, first leg against Olympiakos.
Wolves, who said they did not want to risk the health of their staff and players, added that they respected Uefa's decision and would travel to Greece for the closed-door game.
Manchester United's Europa League tie against Austria's LASK will also be played in an empty stadium. - AFP, REUTERS