EUROPA: Inter’s Conte Unhappy Playing behind Closed Door because of Coronavirus

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Antonio Conte rejects Real Madrid job

Inter Milan coach Antonio Conte said Wednesday it “wasn’t nice” being forced to play upcoming Europa League and Serie A games behind closed doors because of the growing coronavirus epidemic in Italy.

Inter host Bulgarian side Ludogorets in the Europa League round of 32, second leg at an empty San Siro today, before travelling to play Juventus in Turin on Sunday for an Italian league clash also without fans.

“It’s not nice, because in the end football needs the public and to feel the atmosphere around it. The atmosphere is the most beautiful thing,” Conte told Sky Sports Italia.

“Having said that, we defer to the decisions made by the health authorities. I hope that everything will return to normal as soon as possible.”

Inter take a 2-0 lead into the game against the Bulgarians, as they target a last-16 place having crashed out of the Champions League.

Inter are third in Serie A, six points behind leaders Juventus, after their match last weekend against Sampdoria was postponed.

“At the end of this cycle we will see what ambitions we can have, in what position we will be,” added Conte.

Towns in the north of Italy are in lockdown because of the spread of the virus where there have been 374 confirmed cases and 12 people have died.

The clash in Turin will not be the only game this weekend played behind closed doors. The others are Udinese hosting Fiorentina on Saturday; AC Milan at home to Genoa, Parma against SPAL and Sassuolo at home to Brescia on Sunday; and Sampdoria versus Hellas Verona on Monday.

Juventus fans have been allowed to travel to French club Lyon for Wednesday’s Champions League last 16, first leg clash.

Italy’s Six Nations match with Italy in Dublin on March 7 has been postponed with their game against England in Rome on March 14 at risk.

Italy’s Rugby Federation (FIR) has cancelled all matches the weekend, as well as all gatherings of national teams.

Pro14 rugby union’s two matches involving Italian clubs – Zebre against Welsh club Ospreys in Parma and Treviso against Irish side Ulster – have been postponed.

“The Federation will continue to work alongside national and local authorities and will cooperate to ensure the application of the correct measures in order to ensure the containment of the epidemiological emergency to protect public health, members and their families,” FIR said in a statement.

“FIR invites all the affiliated companies and members … to respect the indications regarding the containment of the emergency.”