Atalanta’s game against Valencia at San Siro has been branded a “biological bomb” for the coronavirus by Giorgio Gori the mayor of Bergamo – one of the worst-hit towns in Italy.
The Champions League last-16 first-leg tie was played in front of 44,236 on February 19 in Milan, just a short drive from Bergamo, and four days before the first confirmed case in the region.
But just three weeks later, the return fixture in Spain was played behind closed doors as the outbreak in both countries worsened, and after a number of people who had been at San Siro were diagnosed, including a Spanish sports journalist.
“The match was a biological bomb,” Gori told Spanish newspaper Marca, in an interview via Facebook. “At that time we did not know what was happening. The first patient in Italy was on February 23.
“If the virus was already circulating, the forty thousand fans who went to San Siro were infected. No one knew that the virus was already circulating among us. The virus passed from one person to another.”
Giorgio stressed, however, that “the match didn’t cause everything”. He said: “The spark was really at the Alzano Lombardo hospital, as a patient with unrecognised pneumonia infected patients, doctors and nurses. That was the focal point of the outbreak.”
Since that first leg, which Atalanta won 4-1, Italy has reported more than 80,000 cases and more than 8000 deaths – and since the return fixture, also won by Atalanta 4-3, Spain has reported more than 50,000 cases and more 4000 deaths.