Picture: FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP
Picture: FILIPPO MONTEFORTE / AFP

Rome — The president of Italian football club Brescia, which is based in the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, says it is  time to cancel the Serie A season because of “the plague”.

Serie A basement dwellers Brescia are destined for relegation should the matches play out to their logical end in May. No ball has been kicked in the football-mad country since March 9 because of an outbreak that bore down on Italy from China in February.

The nation of 60-million is under a lockdown that could run for many more weeks. big Italian clubs have been discussing the idea of resuming training in preparation for possible matches behind closed doors.

But Brescia president Massimo Cellino told the Corriere dello Sport newspaper that people who were thinking of playing during a crisis that has killed 4,825 people in Italy were deluding themselves.

“Everything has to be moved to the next season. It is time for realism, gentlemen. This is the plague,” Cellino said.

Brescia is one of the cities in Italy’s northern Lombardy region around Milan most heavily hit by the killer disease.

Lombardy’s death toll surpassed 3,000 on Saturday. The region of about 10-million people has reported more than 25,000 infections — about as many as officially counted in Spain.

“You can no longer play this year. Think about the next one,” said Cellino.

Yet Italian clubs with title aspirations are planning to resume training next week.

Second-placed Lazio — just a point behind perennial champions Juventus — have said they wanted to resume training as early as Monday. Italian media speculate they might postpone it until after the ban on public gatherings formally expires on Wednesday.

Sixth-placed Napoli also aired plans to start training next week. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has already indicated that all the bans and closures will be extended for weeks if not months.

Cellino appeared to firmly back Conte’s approach.

“This season is finished. Anyone who wants this cursed [title], take it. It is closed. Finished. And I am not saying this because Brescia is last in the standings,” the club president said. “We are last because we deserve it.”

AFP