No matter where you find yourself in the world at the moment, chances are you've seen, heard or felt the impact of the Coronavirus. From panicked group texts from a far-off relative advising you to stockpile 60 days worth of food and water, to the site of shopping carts filled to the brim with Purell—which is apparently the subject of rampant online price gouging—and sanitizing wipes, to targeted ads touting the latest and greatest in face-mask technology, the Coronavirus is infiltrating nearly every facet of our life—those are all examples I've witnessed in the past week alone.
Even our refuges, sports and entertainment, haven't been immune to those consequences. From the NBA and United States Soccer warning their players to not high-five fans, sign autographs or otherwise reduce their time fraternizing with fans, to the crazy notion of cancelling the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the Coronavirus shows no prejudice when it comes to our daily sporting and entertainment options.
With Italy bearing the brunt of the Coronavirus in Europe (a reported 2,263 cases and 79 deaths), they've had to strike a balance between public health and safety and maintaining a sense of normalcy, to say nothing of protecting the economy, without any real guidelines or best-practices on how to do so, at least not for this particular strain.
As a result, we've seen a rather inconsistent and, at times, illogical approach. Last weekend alone, Serie A postponed all but four matches, seemingly drawing a quarantine zone north of Rome, as all four matches were located in the lower half of the peninsula. Not the worst outcome, but still rather arbitrary given the nature of viruses.
Still, with the league not wanting to completely halt play, their ramshackled approach at least preserved 20% of the league's Round 26 fixtures. The Coppa Italia semi-final, meanwhile, has been a logistical nightmare. In the wake of Coronavirus concerns, the second leg of the tie between Juventus and AC Milan was originally set to be played behind closed doors tomorrow evening, only to see league officials partially lift that provision, denying access to the stadium for fans travelling from "hotbeds” of infection, namely the Lombardy region, which is, of course, home to AC Milan. With a territorial favoritism vs. science debate about to pop off, league officials have now postponed the fixture full-stop, with no firm postponement date yet announced.
With Italy's national past-time struggling to manage calcio in the time of corona, a rather extreme proposal is being floated in the capital—the full cessation of sporting events in Italy for 30 days. According to Italian news outlet ANSA, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is considering a proposal that would see all sports in the peninsula halted for 30 days, giving the nation enough time to contend with the situation.
At this point, a month-long break remains just an idea, but the potential ramifications of this measure could be huge. With 12 rounds of play remaining (13 for most clubs given the events of last wekeend), a 30 day pause would effectively push the season to the end of June, which ordinarily wouldn't be a huge problem except for the fact that Euro 2020 kicks off on June 12th...in Rome.
Now, either the league just fast forwards and picks up the schedule a month from now, effectively erasing the next four or five rounds from existence, or they somehow coerce the government to allow them to at least play behind closed doors.
This is obviously a story you'll want to keep your eye, but, for now, it's full steam ahead for Roma's next fixture, Sunday against Sampdoria.