The president of Napoli has cast doubt over his team’s Champions League fixture in Barcelona, claiming Spanish authorities are “acting like nothing is wrong” as the country endures a new spike in coronavirus cases.
Aurelio De Laurentiis, well known for outspoken remarks, has asked for the last-16 second leg, due to be played at the Camp Nou on 8 August, to be moved to a neutral venue.
“I hear a lot of perplexity and fear coming from Spain and they’re acting like nothing is wrong,” he said. “What does it take to say: ‘Don’t go to Barcelona, but rather go to Portugal, Germany or Geneva?’”
On Monday the president of Catalonia, Quim Torra, said the region had 10 days to get a new coronavirus outbreak under control or it could face a return to lockdown. “Figuratively speaking, we’re in the precursor stage of what we faced in March and we all know what happened then,” Torra said.
Barcelona last played at the Camp Nou on 16 July, in a 2-1 defeat by Osasuna.
Uefa, following the restart of many of the major European leagues, agreed in June to hold the remaining ties from suspended last-16 fixtures in the Champions and Europa League behind closed doors at the grounds of the home sides. Other fixtures include Manchester City’sat home to Real Madrid and Chelsea’s at Bayern Munich.
After the completion of the last 16 on the weekend of 8-9 August, both competitions will be completed in neutral countries, with Champions League matches to be played in Lisbon and Europa League ones in the German region of North Rhine-Westphalia. All ties will be reduced to a single fixture.
In making its decision regarding the remaining last-16 fixtures, Uefa said it reserved the right to “reassign any such matches to the venues of the final tournament of the relevant competition should new events occur”.
On Thursday a Uefa spokesperson said: “We are monitoring the situation and are in touch with the relevant local authorities. The match is scheduled to take place in Barcelona as planned.”