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La Liga matches may be played without fans as soon as this weekend

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As Covid-19 cases ratchet up in Spain, Sr. Tebas says contingency plans are being prepared to do so.

Football Report Is Presentated At La Liga Photo by Oscar J. Barroso / AFP7 / Europa Press Sports via Getty Images

Unless you live in a very big bubble (in which case, why are you reading this?) or are an alien from another planet who decided to drop in and check out Area 51, you surely know of the spread of the coronavirus—technically, COVID-19—in Europe.

Today brought news that the Italian football league has been suspended due to the virus; some matches had already been played behind closed doors, but now it has been decided that the risk to the players and coaches is too great to continue, at least unti early April. Ligue Un (France) and the Bundesliga (Germany) are currently being affected by government regulations limiting gatherings to 1000 people, which rules out topflight football.

Both of those leagues want to finish out the season; so too does La Liga. However, the virus is spreading in Spain; today another 557 cases were identified, bringing the nationwide total to 1,231 so far (this data is from here). One cluster of cases has been identified as originating at a funeral in Vitoria-Gasteiz, in the Basque country (the home town of Alavés) while there is now a second cluster in Madrid. However, there are cases in other regions, as well.

Universities and colleges in the Madrid region have been closed. MARCA reports a decision will be made shortly on whether La Liga matches should go ahead without fans. If so, there will of course be an economic impact, though Spanish topflight sides rely on TV revenues for most of their income.

It’s also been suggested that the Copa del Rey final should be played behind closed doors in Seville; of course, since that falls under the remit of the RFEF rather than La Liga, we can look forward to another Tebas-Rubiales spat.....

As for European football, UEFA has already decreed that a number of Europa and Champions League matches should go ahead behind closed doors—including Valencia’s match with Atalanta tomorrow— and for the life of me I don’t understand why they simply don’t make it the same way for all.

Meanwhile, the fate of the Juventus—Lyon tie is unclear. Lyon won 1-0 in France and is supposed to play the return leg in Turin on March 17, but whether the French side will even be able to get to Italy, or be allowed in if they do get there, is not known.

Villarreal’s next home match is scheduled for March 22, and I strongly suspect that by then, stadiums will be closed. For Javi Calleja, that might not be a bad thing, given “Calleja Veta Ya” chants were probably ringing in his ears at the end of yesterday’s loss.

There is also the not-insignificant matter of the Villarreal B—Castellon derby, scheduled for this Sunday. A crowd of several thousand is likely for that one; management of that match presumably falls under the RFEF, so will go ahead unless the government puts limits on crowd size, though I don’t know for sure. But with the situation evolving so rapidly, anything could happen.