Strasbourg v PSG called off due to coronavirus fears

Strasbourg v PSG called off due to coronavirus fears
Strasbourg v PSG called off due to coronavirus fears

The Ligue 1 match between Strasbourg and Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday has been called off due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) confirmed on Friday the game had been postponed following advice from local authorities.

There was no immediate indication of a new date for the game, which is the first in Ligue 1 to have been pulled from the schedule.

The decision came just three days after French sports minister Roxana Maracineanu stated Ligue 1 matches would not be affected by measures to combat the spread of the virus.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Maracineanu said league games would take place because the majority of spectators would be travelling from local areas where there have been no confirmed outbreaks of COVID-19.

However, she did indicate PSG’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Borussia Dortmund next Wednesday could have to be played behind closed doors.

On Thursday, the European Parliament relocated a plenary session to Brussels rather than Strasbourg due to health risks.

There have been 420 confirmed cases of the virus in France, according to the World Health Organisation – the third highest for a European country, behind Germany and Italy.

Asked about the coronavirus in a news conference, PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said: “Personally, I’m not afraid but I’m not comfortable. It’s worrying.

“I hope we’re doing everything we can to protect the players by being careful. It’s clear that we know that in Italy, games are played without fans. In Switzerland I think they don’t play at all. I would say that type of news makes me uncomfortable.

“There are times when I don’t think about it at all because we’re working. We do what we can, and we don’t have any influence on other things. If a decision is made about the fans [against Dortmund] we have to accept it.

“Do we want to play with our fans? Yes, always, of course. We are stronger with them, that’s clear. On Wednesday, we’ll need everyone in good shape. The coaches, the team, the physiotherapists and the fans too. I hope to have all our fans, that’s clear.”

Italy has seen widespread postponement of sporting events, including Serie A matches, as authorities attempt to delay the spread of the disease.

Juventus versus Inter was one of six matches from last week to be called off and rearranged for this weekend. They will be held behind closed doors in line with a government decree that says all sporting events are to be held without fans present until April 3.

In England, the Premier League is expected to meet with the government and broadcasters on Monday to discuss contingency plans should the proliferation of the coronavirus accelerate in the UK.