Italy is likely to order all top-flight Serie A soccer games to be played without fans attending in efforts to curb Europe's worst coronavirus outbreak, the sports minister said on Wednesday.
"We are heading towards that decision," Vincenzo Spadafora told reporters when asked if the government was thinking of barring fans.
Inter Milan's chief executive Giuseppe Marotta said it could be the only way of finishing the championship.
The government last month banned sporting events in the worst-affected northern regions although it gave clubs in that area the option of playing behind closed doors.
Serie A games
Serie A, however, has preferred to call off games rather than play them in empty stadiums and, so far, 10 matches have been postponed as well as this week's two Coppa Italia semi-final ties.
Meanwhile, Italy's epidemic has spread, with 79 dead and 2,502 cases, and ministers are considering new measures.
Spadafora's announcement came as representatives from Serie A clubs were meeting to discuss the situation and Marotta said they were prepared to play without fans â an about-turn from their previous position.
"Playing behind closed doors could be the only way to complete the championship in the light of the emergency and the restrictions that the government is rightly adopting," he said as he left the meeting.
"The aim is to finish the championship as normally as possible, without creating a competitive imbalance, but as you can see the scenario is constantly changing."
Marotta suggested that the six matches which had been postponed last week â including the heavyweight Juventus v Inter match â could be rescheduled for the coming weekend.