Story By: Joseph Golder, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Golder’s News And Sport
Paris Saint-Germain’s crunch Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund could be played behind closed doors or even postponed as France bans gatherings of more than 1,000 people.
The revelation by L’Equipe comes hours after the Parc des Princes was completely disinfected ahead of the match over coronavirus fears.
L’Equipe say that French Health Minister Olivier Veran made announcements at an emergency security meeting at the Elysee palace Sunday evening that have cast doubt over whether the match can proceed as normal in light of the epidemic threat posed by COVID-19.
Olivier Veran announced that France has banned gatherings of more than 1,000 people in a bid to contain the spread of the virus.
The Health Minister made the announcement as France’s number of COVID-19 cases skyrocketed to 19 deaths and 1,126 (now 1,209) confirmed cases.
The announcement was made following an emergency meeting held by French President Emmanuel Macron, with Prefects and ministries tasked with coming “up with lists of events considered useful.”
Exams, protests and public transportation may or may not be exempted from the ban, although it is unclear if this will extend to football matches.
L’Equipe had earlier reported that Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) had taken numerous measures to ensure that the second leg of the round of Champions League tie could go ahead despite the threat of the virus.
A company called ISS – which specialises in cleaning public areas – was even hired to disinfect the entire Parc des Princes stadium. Their tasks reportedly included cleaning ramps and stairs, escalators and handles.
It is one of many measures carried out by PSG in a bid to convince the authorities to allow the match to proceed as planned. Another measure reportedly involves opening the stadium earlier to prevent large clusters of people gathering shortly before kick-off.
A decision is expected today (Monday) over whether the match will have to take place behind closed doors.
PSG’s Ligue 1 match at Strasbourg on Saturday was postponed.
L’Equipe quote an anonymous spokesperson at PSG saying yesterday evening that it was currently “impossible to comment on the latest government announcements and everything was still possible: postponement, behind closed doors, relocation and a match with spectators.”
According to L’Equipe, the French Sports Ministry is pushing for a match behind closed doors, but the postponement of the match cannot yet be ruled out, with it being up to the Paris police prefect to have the last word on the matter.
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