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Brescia ready to forfeit matches if Italian season resumes

Sports

A view of the empty Mapei stadium as the Serie A soccer match between Sassuolo and Brescia is being played behind closed doors, in Reggio Emilia, Monday, March 9, 2020. Italian Premier Giuseppe Conte says he is restricting travel  nationwide to try to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. Conte said Monday night a new government decree will require all people in Italy to demonstrate they need to work, have health conditions or other limited legitimate reasons to travel outside their home areas. (Massimo Paolone/LaPresse via AP)

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BRESCIA, Italy (AP) — The president of Italian soccer club Brescia said Thursday he will forfeit his team’s remaining Serie A matches if the league resumes.

Brescia is the third-worst hit province in Italy with more than 8,500 coronavirus cases and more than 1,300 deaths.

“This season doesn’t make sense anymore,” Massimo Cellino said in an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport. “We’re all stopped, no team will return the same as before, matches played behind closed doors, and then there’s the risk to the health of the players.

“Returning to activity is pure craziness. If they force us to I am ready to not put out the team and lose the matches 3-0 by default out of respect for the citizens of Brescia and their loved ones who aren’t here anymore.”

Serie A has been suspended since March 9 and at least 15 players in the league have tested positive for COVID-19.

Brescia is in last place in the league standings. The president of Lazio recently accused Cellino of trying to avoid relegation.

“I don’t care at all about relegation,” Cellino said. “So far we have deserved it and I have my blame in that, too.

“I’m speaking generally … to prolong the season we would need to change all national and international rules — player contracts, balance sheets, deadlines with the banks, transfer market, preparation, start of the new season. Absolute chaos.”

UEFA is contemplating having the domestic season run into August — if games can resume amid nationwide lockdowns because of the virus.

“The season has to end June 30, the deadline to present the club’s budgets and player contracts,” Cellino said. “They are arrogant and irresponsible. They only think about their economic interests and their cup competitions.

“But UEFA doesn’t decide for the Italian championship, Italy decides. In order to resume Serie A, it has to end by June 30. Will they make us play every two days? Or does UEFA also have the power to extend the days and make them 72 hours?”

Italy has recorded the most deaths of any nation because of the virus. It has extended a strict nationwide lockdown, including banning professional athletes from training inside sports facilities, until April 13. Authorities have also cautioned that any return to normal movement will be a slow process.

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