Coronavirus: Cristiano Ronaldo, PSG and the view from Europe

The coronavirus outbreak has seen football suspended around Europe with countless title, promotion and relegation issues unsettled.

Sky Sports News spoke to the leading sports journalists around Europe to learn about the wider response to the pandemic and what measures are being taken around the continent…

  • Coronavirus: PL clubs to meet on Thursday
  • How could the Premier League resume?
  • Insider: PL divided on what happens next

SPAIN

Dermot Corrigan – Spanish football journalist

‘Key players could return, a lot depending on UEFA meeting’

Barcelona and Real Madrid are once again battling it out for the La Liga title, and the enforced break could give both clubs extra time to get important players back from injury.

“Fans and supporters are looking at that. Eden Hazard was not meant to be back this season, and it is the same with Luis Suarez but now fans of those teams are talking about getting those players back to play key roles.

“It was a strange time for both Real Madrid and Barcelona in the past few weeks, Real won the Clasico but then lost to Betis, which allowed Barca to go top.

“Everyone is hoping football comes back as soon as possible but they know the crisis needs to be dealt with before any games can be played.”

If the La Liga season is annulled, the consequences for some of its smaller clubs could be disastrous.

“The league is aware of the financial problems which would arise if the season was not completed. A lot of clubs rely on the broadcast income – around 500m euros would be lost to the clubs and some of them might go out of business.

“The games might have to be played in the summer but it’s very much up in the air at the moment. The next meeting is a week on Thursday and the games have only been postponed for two weeks so in theory they could be back then but we’re all waiting for the outcome of Tuesday’s meeting of UEFA, to see what comes of that.”

PORTUGAL

Filipe Dias – chief editor, O Jogo

‘Ronaldo in lockdown in Madeira, Portugal not prepared for size of threat’

Juventus’ Cristiano Ronaldo is currently in lockdown on the island of Madeira. He was ordered to stay in Portugal after visiting his unwell mother because of the scale of the outbreak in Italy; and Serie A in particular.

His Juve team-mate Daniele Rugani was one of the first professional players to have been confirmed to have contracted coronavirus.

“It is an issue [with Ronaldo]. He went to visit his ailing mother who suffered a stroke, he went to the island of Madeira where they are all from.

“After that his team-mate Daniele Rugani tested positive for coronavirus, so he was ordered to stay in Madeira. So he is in lockdown himself. I think he went for a stroll the other day, but I don’t think he will do that again in the near future.”

Dias also says Portugal was not prepared to deal with magnitude of the issue and says there are currently no meetings scheduled to discuss the organisation of domestic sport.

“There’s no sporting activity whatsoever here in Portugal since last Thursday, every club big and small have sent their athletes home and have told them to stay fit as best as they can. Everything has been brought to a standstill.

“[Euro 2020] is a big question, we have been discussing it, we think things might be considered null or suspended.

“Spain, our neighbour, the whole country is in quarantine. Things are shutting down, we are seeing less and less social activity, never mind sporting activity. Everything is in question at the moment.

“Nobody was prepared to deal with this. I was present at the meeting with the National Board of Health in Portugal, they invited the media so every TV network, newspaper, website, radio station – you name it, they were there.

“You could tell from the authorities themselves that nobody was prepared to deal with something this big. There are no [further meetings about organising sport] here in Portugal at least.”

FRANCE

Jonathan Johnson – ESPN French football analyst

‘Debate on deeming Ligue 1 null and void raging on’

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady said this season’s Premier League should be declared “null and void” if it can’t be finished – there is a similar debate going on in France led by Lyon’s president.

“At the moment, all professional, semi-pro and amateur leagues are suspended. Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 are waiting for UEFA’s meeting next week before deciding how they can proceed.

“Like Baroness Brady’s view in the UK, similar has been said in France by Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas that this season should be null and void.

“A similar debate is raging in France as society continues to go into lockdown. Schools and universities will be closed from the start of next week.”

PSG’s Champions League last-16 tie with Dortmund was played behind closed doors on Wednesday but local authorities in Paris allowed supporters to gather around the Parc des Princes – a decision which was met by criticism.

“There were a number of different reactions, for example Marseille coach Andre Villas-Boas said it was absolutely ludicrous and ridiculous what was going on.

“You had a number of other people, particularly the PSG ultras, defending their position. The club say they appreciated the supported the fans wanted to lend their team.

“It would was a decision taken by local authorities and given the way it went [for PSG] I would be interested to know if they would take a similar decision and allow such gatherings to take place if matches were to be played behind closed doors in the future. At the moment it is unclear if anything will be played if the next weeks or months.”

ITALY

Moreno Molla – reporter, Sky in Italy

‘Lazio fans would be very upset if the championship is cancelled’

Coronavirus has already had a substantial impact on Italian football, with Juventus defender Daniel Rugani the first player reporting a positive test and the entire country on lockdown.

In Serie A, the race for the scudetto is incredibly close, with just a single point separating leaders Juventus and second-placed Lazio.

Ending the season with no outright winner, Molla feels, would cause plenty of anguish in the sky blue half of Rome.

“Italy is in lockdown at the moment and everybody is advised to stay indoors, that is obviously affecting everything and affecting sport. Eight players have tested positive for coronavirus so far.

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