Mario Balotelli Among Serie A Players to Call For Strike Over Coronavirus Spread

Several Serie A matches have already been postponed due to the virus

Mario Balotelli coronavirus
Mario Balotelli during a Serie A match between Brescia and Napoli.
Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

As coronavirus continues to spread throughout Italy, the professional soccer players union in the country, the AIC, is considering a strike due to player health concerns. This despite Italian soccer authorities already postponing a handful of first division Serie A matches, as well as hosting others behind closed doors.

Currently, there have been over 5,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Italy, with 366 deaths, including 133 in a single day this week. That has unsurprisingly spooked officials across all facets of society, with soccer only being part of the equation. Currently, the country is quarantining nearly 40 million people, requiring special documentation for those in the affected areas to travel.

Such precautions have pushed certain figures in Italian soccer to question whether it wouldn’t be more prudent to simply cancel games until the coronavirus situation is under control. AIC President Damiano Tommasi called for a stoppage of games, saying that the only teams people should be cheering for are those in the hospitals, attempting to combat the virus. Meanwhile, Italian striker Mario Balotelli, who currently plays for Brescia, said he wants games to be stopped, because he does not want to help spread the disease to vulnerable people:

“I LOVE FOOTBALL MORE THAN YOU… but playing means travelling by bus, train, aeroplane, sleeping in a hotel, in any case entering into contact with other people outside of your working environment… […] I certainly don’t want my mother, who I see and eat with almost every day, to catch anything from me. She is not the same age as me and as much as I love football (which I owe everything to), I won’t risk her getting ill!

The AIC sent around a preliminary statement announcing a strike for this Sunday and Monday — which would include the highly-anticipated Juventus-Inter match — but as there was not a total agreement by the entire union, there is no strike in progress. So far, no Serie A matches have been officially cancelled due to the coronavirus, though officials are monitoring the situation, particularly after the government issued travel bans to and from affected regions until April 3rd.

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