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03.03.2020 Europe

Inter Milan boss attacks league chief's 'clown' antics over coronavirus

By Paul Myers - RFI
AFP/Tiziana Fabi
LISTEN MAR 3, 2020
AFP/Tiziana Fabi

Inter Milan chairman Steven Zhang on Tuesday labelled the Italian football league president Paolo Dal Pino a clown over the rescheduling of matches in the wake of the spread of the coronavirus.

More than 2,000 people have tested positive and 52 have died from the virus in Italy since 22 February.

Milan's Lombardy region has recorded 38 deaths and its western neighbour Piedmont - home to Serie A champions Juventus - has also been heavily hit.

Italy's football schedule has been upended since the detection of the new coronavirus. Matches have been played behind closed doors or postponed.

With Inter Milan's surge for a first Serie A title since 2010 stalling, Zhang posted his views about Dal Pino on his verified instagram account.

"Playing around (with) the calendar and always putting the public health as secondary consideration," Zhang wrote. "You are probably the biggest and darkest clown I have ever seen.

"How about we don't protect our players or coaches and ask them to play for you 24/7 nonstop?" he added. "Yes, I am speaking at you. Our Lega President #PauloDalPino! #shameonyou."

Inter have not turned out in Serie A since losing to Lazio on 16 February.

Their home match against Sampdoria and last weekend's title clash at Juventus were both postponed.

As clubs await dates for when those games will be staged, Inter sit third in the table eight points behind Lazio who have played two games more.

Inter Milan's chief executive, Beppe Marotta, echoed Zhang's outrage. He called Dal Pino's various scheduling moves impractical and almost provocative.

"You find teams that haven't played for two weeks, others that play continuously," Marotta said in a TV interview.

Giovanni Malago, head of Italy's olympic committee told La Repubblica newspaper it was time for everyone to calm down.

"Health comes before everything, and that includes football," Malago said. "There are people dying, people getting sick, and people trying to bring this global emergency under control," he said. "I'd say it is time to stop this playground squabbling."

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