Allianz Stadium, Turin saw the closed-door clash between Juventus and Inter Milan on Sunday night. The COVID-19 outbreak in Italy has forced Serie A matches to be played in empty stadiums while fans watch them from the safety of their homes. Cristiano Ronaldo was spotted in good spirits as he interacted with invisible fans at the stadium. Ronaldo was seen jokingly high-fiving fans who were obviously not there. The Juventus players also gathered in the field to applaud the empty stands as well.
Deboarding the team bus outside the Allianz Stadium, Ronaldo was seen cheekily putting out his left hand to high-five fans. The routine gesture had one thing missing- the fans. In the COVID-19 plagued country, all Serie A matches until April 3 will be taking place in empty stadiums. With his mother recovering from a stroke, the Juventus player looked to be in a good mood ahead of the match.
Apart from the footballers, only media, technical staff, stadium staff, and high-ranking club officials are to be allowed into the stadiums. Before they enter, they have to undergo a temperature check.
On Sunday, the eerily empty Allianz Stadium saw the 2-0 defeat of Inter. Aaron Ramsey and Paulo Dybala scored a second-half goal each to secure the victory for Juventus. Throughout the eerily quiet match, the sound of the ball being kicked, the players communicating, and the managers barking orders could be clearly heard.
In good spirits, the Juventus players gathered on the field and applauded the empty stands.
Italy is one of the worst affected countries by the novel coronavirus. Both South Korea and Italy have more than 7,000 people infected by the virus. While South Korea has managed to keep the death toll low, in a span of 24 hours the number of COVID-19 patient deaths rose from 133 to 366 in Italy.
Fearing the safety of players and staff, Inter president Steven Zhang criticised Serie A president Paolo Dal Pino's match scheduling, CNN reported. However, the closed-door matches until April 3 does reduce the risk of contagion while the matches are allowed to continue.