Many stadiums across Europe will be absent of spectators and some even without players due to ongoing concerns about coronavirus as numerous matches are being called off or played behind closed doors. Some clubs were even prepared to forfeit upcoming matches for the sake of safety to the players, club employees and spectators before UEFA stepped in and postponed two ties.
On Wednesday, two Europa League contenders took strong stances ahead of away matches on Thursday. AS Roma, scheduled to face Sevilla, announced that the club would not travel to Spain after the team plane was not authorized to land. The decision was made by local authorities, according to the club. Going in the other direction was supposed to be Getafe with a trip to Milan -- one of Italy's hardest hit areas. UEFA called off both of the games later on Wednesday due to travel restrictions.
Here's the statement from UEFA:
As a result of the travelling restrictions between Spain and Italy imposed yesterday by the Spanish authorities, the following UEFA Europa League Round of 16 matches will not take place as scheduled tomorrow, March 12, 2020.
• Sevilla FC (Spain) – AS Roma (Italy)
• FC Internazionale (Italy) – Getafe CF (Spain)
Further decisions on the two matches will be communicated in due course.
Getafe president Angel Torres stated on Tuesday that his team wouldn't be going and was prepared to forfeit.
"If we have to lose the tie, we lose it," Torres said. "I'm not the type of person to run any risks. We're really excited [to play], but if it has to be like this, it will be."
On Tuesday night, the decision was made to postpone the Arsenal vs. Manchester City Premier League clash in the first big decision made in the English top flight in regards to the virus.
It's unclear when UEFA plans to reschedule the matches.