Inter President Steven Zhang said “closing doors but continuing matches is the right thing to do. We made the right choice and now people realise it was correct.”
A decision was finally announced by the Government this evening that sporting events will be played behind closed doors until April 3, as the positive cases in Italy went above 3,000, including 107 deaths.
“Closing doors but continuing matches is the right thing to do,” Zhang told BBC Sport.
The original proposal last week had been to play Juventus-Inter without fans from the most-affected areas, specifically Lombardy (whose capital is Milan), Emilia-Romagna and Veneto, was rejected by Inter, then ruled out by the local authorities, who simply postponed the game.
“From a moral standpoint, as President of a football club and a manager in an organisation who are involved in these events, I just cannot accept this kind of proposal and I cannot let public health be put in this difficult condition,” added Zhang.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of game it is, it doesn’t matter if it was 24 hours or 48 hours, we knew the situation was not going to be gone.
“The right thing to do was to reject the proposal. I had to do what was morally correct, even though it was difficult to say no. But we made the right choice and now people realise it was correct.
“As a football club, we have a responsibility to deliver the right message. Safety is the highest priority. Closing the doors to a match is difficult for many reasons but in the end, in order to continue with the calendar and continue with normal activities, we have to take these decisions.
“I am not worried closing doors will affect the performance of the team. What I am worried about is putting public safety at risk by doing these kinds of events in front of spectators.”
Juventus-Inter is now likely to be played this Sunday behind closed doors, a week after it was originally meant to kick off.
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