Aurelio De Laurentiis has accused UEFA of ignoring the threat of coronavirus by allowing Napoli’s Champions League tie with Barcelona to go ahead at Camp Nou as planned.
A spike in positive COVID-19 cases in Catalonia led to talk that the last-16 second leg could be moved to a neutral venue, just like matches from the quarter-finals onwards are to be staged in Lisbon.
However, UEFA confirmed on Thursday that the re-arranged tie – which is set for August 8 and poised at 1-1 from the first leg – will still take place at Barcelona’s home ground.
“We are monitoring the situation and are in touch with the relevant local authorities,” the governing body said in a statement.
“The match is scheduled to take place in Barcelona as planned.”
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But outspoken Napoli president De Laurentiis is completely against the idea of his side travelling to an apparent coronavirus hotspot and has labelled UEFA’s decision as “embarrassing”.
“I don’t understand why we have to go to a city that at the moment has huge problems,” he is quoted as saying by Italian news outlets.
“You hear huge fears from Spain, and UEFA just ignores the issue. I’m calling them constantly but it’s embarrassing.
“How long would it take just to say that we could play in Portugal, Germany or Switzerland? It seems like we’re back in school – nobody in UEFA knows how to do business.”
Barcelona’s most recent game at Camp Nou was a 2-1 league defeat to Osasuna on July 16.
And speaking on Thursday, Spanish health minister Salvador Illa admitted there is cause for concern with regards to the latest positive tests.
“The outbreak [in Barcelona] is worrying because of the density of the population,” he said at a news conference.
“What is happening in Spain is happening in all the other countries in our region. This is a pandemic. We are on alert and acting appropriately.
“The majority of the outbreaks in Spain are under control.”
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