With the rest of the sports world just starting to grapple with how to contend with player and fan safety in the face of the Coronavirus outbreak, Italy are at the forefront of this unfortunate movement, moving quickly from the behind closed doors approach to the outright postponement of the season in and of itself, joining the Japanese baseball and Chinese basketball leagues among the ranks of pro leagues to halt play during the outbreak.
While Roma's domestic schedule was put on hold for a month, we still had the Europa League Round of 16 to look forward to this week, and a juicy matchup at that. By drawing Sevilla, Roma were coming face to face with their former sporting director, Monchi; the man who came into the capital a savior and left a veritable villain. Monchi wouldn't be suiting up for Sevilla, but the noise in the papers could have drowned out anything that happened on the pitch
But, in the wake of the entire country of Italy going into quarantine, which then prompted Spain to ban all incoming flights from Italy, Roma's Thursday trip to Sevilla was suddenly in question.
Question no more; it's off:
Breaking news: #ASRoma will not travel to Spain for the @EuropaLeague match against @SevillaFC_ENG after the plane from Italy was not authorised to land in Spain. More details from UEFA soon. pic.twitter.com/vnVmJLkeRC— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) March 11, 2020
That's about as conclusive a statement as you'll ever read. As powerful as UEFA may be, they can't overrule the Spanish government. With flights from Italy being outlawed for the moment, Roma had no choice but to stay home tomorrow, throwing the entire Round of 16 into question.
What happens from here is anyone's guess. Sevilla are currently set to make the return trip to Roma on the 19th, at which point Italy will still presumably be under quarantine, so this may not be as simple as forcing Roma to forfeit tomorrow's match when Sevilla may very well sit out the return leg next week.
Update: UEFA Postpones Matches
As a result of the travelling restrictions between Spain and Italy imposed yesterday by the Spanish authorities, the following #UEL matches will not take place as scheduled tomorrow.— UEFA (@UEFA) March 11, 2020
Sevilla – AS Roma
Internazionale – Getafe