March 10, 2020 / 10:30 AM / 24 days ago

UPDATE 2-Soccer-Barcelona v Napoli Champions League decider to be played without spectators

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BARCELONA, March 10 (Reuters) - Barcelona’s Champions League last-16 second leg match with Napoli scheduled for March 18 will take place without spectators due to fears over the spread of the coronavirus, the club said on Tuesday.

The match will take place at Camp Nou after a 1-1 draw in Napoli, but no supporters will be allowed to enter the stadium.

Other games in the competition this week - Paris St Germain v Borussia Dortmund and Valencia v Atalanta - will also be played behind closed doors.

“The Champions League match scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, between FC Barcelona and Napoli, will be played at Camp Nou behind closed doors,” said Barcelona in a statement.

The Spanish Health Ministry had said sport fixtures expected to draw crowds from zones designated as high-risk for coronavirus, such as northern Italy, would be played without spectators.

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said his club would lose around six million euros ($6.83 million) from not allowing fans to enter, although backed the measures to help contain the spread of the virus.

“There’s an economic cost not just for Barca but any club that has to play behind closed doors,” Bartomeu told reporters. “In Barca’s case it could be around six million euros, but I’ll say it again, that’s not the important thing.

“We had a meeting with the Catalan government this morning and there was a very firm recommendation to play the game behind closed doors.

“We truly regret that this will affect the club members and fans and the football world, but we think it’s an exceptional situation that we’re going through.” ($1 = 0.8788 euros) (Reporting by Richard Martin and Rik Sharma; Editing by Alex Richardson and Pritha Sarkar)

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