‘They haven’t realised the gravity of coronavirus situation’ – Ancelotti not impressed by UK response to pandemic

The Everton boss says football does not matter in the face of the pandemic, which has killed 21 people in the UK and over 1,400 in his homeland Italy

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti says suspending the Premier League in the face of the coronavirus pandemic was the right decision, but fears the UK has not grasped the “gravity of the situation”.

It was announced on Friday that the competition will be postponed until at least April 3, as all forms of professional football in England were put on hold.

The Premier League had initially insisted games would go ahead as normal, but emergency talks were held after Arsenal confirmed that coach Mikel Arteta had tested positive for Covid-19.

Several more teams in the English top-flight have been affected, including Everton, who announced on Friday that their entire squad are in self-isolation after a player reported to the club that he was showing symptoms of the disease.

In the UK, 21 people have died after contracting coronavirus, while in Italy, Ancelotti’s homeland and Europe’s worst-hit country, the death toll has risen to 1,441 with 21,157 confirmed cases.

And Ancelotti feels leagues, clubs and players are right to stop playing matches because football is not important in the face of the pandemic. 

“We’re not really self-isolating at all, but some prevention measures did come in after a player had a fever, but his temperature has dropped now and that’s the most important thing,” Ancelotti said to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“The Premier League did stop eventually, and it’s about time. It was the right decision faced with the scenario. We couldn’t continue. Health is the most important thing for everyone: teams, fans, media, everyone who works in football.

“In theory, we should get back to work on March 22, but if the general situation worsens, how can we even think of that? If the coronavirus is still spreading rapidly, football cannot resume.

“To be perfectly honest, I am not interested. Football counts for zero right now and it almost annoys me to be talking about it, faced with the tragedy that is unfolding in front of our eyes. This is a pandemic, a situation none of us had experienced before now.”

He continued: “Italy were forced to understand that it was time to stop being superficial, they had to respect the orders and stay home, to respect themselves and others during this war.

“I have followed the British Prime Minister’s press conference on television. It seems to me that they have not yet realised the gravity of the situation up here. Life continues to flow with a certain regularity.”