By Emre Asikci
ANKARA (AA) – Barcelona and Napoli’s UEFA Champions League match next week will be played behind closed doors due to the worsening coronavirus outbreak in Spain.
The Spanish giants will host the Italian side at Camp Nou for the second leg of their Round of 16 fixture on Wednesday, March 18.
Barcelona have the advantage of an away goal but both sides have all to play for after the 1-1 draw in Italy.
In a statement, Barcelona said the decision was taken after a meeting with government representatives and the club was following official recommendations.
"It is a decision that the Club has taken for health reasons, not just for the country but for the entire continent, which is what is important … As such it is a decision that has been taken solely on health grounds," Joan Guix, health secretary of the Catalan Regional Government, said in the statement.
Spain currently has more than 1,000 confirmed cases and 29 deaths due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus that emerged in China last December.
This is not the only Champions League fixture affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
Paris Saint-Germain and Borussia Dortmund’s clash this Wednesday will also take place in an empty stadium in Paris.
The French champions’ away fixture against Strasbourg in Ligue 1 this past Saturday was also postponed.
Several other football fixtures have also been disrupted in other European countries over the past few weeks, particularly in neighboring Italy, which is the worst-hit country on the continent.
On Monday, Italian authorities announced that all domestic sporting events, including Serie A matches, have been suspended until at least April 3.