La Liga to be played behind closed doors for 15 days as coronavirus cases increase

Spanish authorities have decided to continue the domestic football calendar for now, but fans will not be permitted to attend matches

Matches in La Liga and the Segunda Division will be played behind closed doors for at least the next two weeks amid the coronavirus outbreak in Spain.

No fans will be allowed entry into Spanish football stadiums for 15 days, with Real Madrid set to be most affected as they face the prospect of meetings with Eibar and Valencia in an empty Santiago Bernabeu.

The remaining 19 clubs in the country’s top tier will only have to negotiate one home game during the specified period, with Madrid’s title rivals Barcelona due to take in a trip to Mallorca on Saturday before playing host to Leganes on March 22.

La Liga have released an official statement confirming the news on Tuesday, which reads: “According to information from the Higher Sports Council (CSD), the matches of LaLiga Santander and LaLiga SmartBank will be played behind closed doors, starting today and for at least the next two weeks.

“La Liga will continue in constant contact with the Ministry of Health and the CSD to meet its recommendations and/or decisions, putting the health of fans, players, club employees, journalists, etc. before the health crisis of COVID-19.”

Champions League round-of-16 matches have also been affected by the rise of coronavirus cases across Europe, with Paris Saint-Germain vs Borussia Dortmund, Valencia vs Atalanta, Bayern Munich vs Chelsea and Barcelona vs Napoli set to take place in empty stadiums.

A La Liga spokesman added on the measures being put into place by UEFA: “For weeks, La Liga has been working on alternative plans in coordination with UEFA, in case the health authorities decree the suspension of any match, and have a plan of dates to contest the matches within the established deadlines.”

Spain is the latest in a long line of European countries to impose stringent protocols in order to contain the spread of coronavirus, with Italy currently suffering the worst outbreak on the continent.

Government officials in Italy announced that the county was to be placed in lockdown on Monday, with all remaining Serie A fixtures for the 2019-20 season postponed indefinitely as a result.

The Swiss Super League has also shut down until March 23, with the staging of this summer’s European Championship now in doubt with the tournament set to be held across 12 major cities.