Updated Mar 5, 2020 - Sports

Premier League bans pre-match handshakes due to coronavirus fears

Newcastle players training

Photo: Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

Soccer leagues across Europe are reacting differently as the coronavirus spreads, from canceling games to playing in closed-door arenas.

Driving the news: The Premier League has banned the ceremonial pre-match handshake. But following advice from the government, it has not canceled any of the upcoming games yet.

Journalists are being asked about their recent whereabouts prior to a pre-match news conference with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, per AP.

  • Five Serie A matches, including the Juventus-Inter Milan game, will be played in empty stadiums, ESPN reports. The preventative measure comes as Italy has the worst coronavirus outbreak in Europe.
  • Switzerland has postponed all games in the top two divisions after a federal order banned events involving more than 1,000 till mid-March.
  • The Spanish league said the match between historic rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona is not suspended, but there is a contingency plan if needed — which could include playing the game in a closed-door stadium, per AP.

The bottom line: The coronavirus' impact is forcing influential soccer leagues to put a pause on major games or block fans from stadiums to view matches, forcing leagues to take a revenue hit, in hopes of preventing the disease from spreading.

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