Serie A match in Italy was delayed after the country’s sport minister called for the suspension of all Serie A games due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Vincenzo Spadafora posted a statement on Facebook saying it didn’t make sense for matches in Italy’s top-flight league to continue while the country struggles to contain the virus.
The news sparked confusion with the game between Parma and Spal just minutes from kick off.
Players were already in the tunnel and about to walk onto the pitch but were requested to return to the dressing room by the referee.
The match at the Ennio Tardini Stadium eventually kicked off 75 minutes later.
Sport events in the country are already being played behind closed doors as Italy’s government scrambles to get to grips with the outbreak.
The country has now recorded 5,883 cases and 233 deaths, the most fatalities outside mainland China and the biggest outbreak in Europe.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte signed a decree early Sunday that will put millions of people across northern Italy under lockdown in a bid to control the spread.
The President of Italy’s players’ union Damiano Tommasi had previously called for the suspension of Serie A and Spadafora echoed his concerns.
“It doesn’t make sense in this moment — as we ask citizens to make enormous sacrifices to avoid the spread of the virus — to risk the health of players, referees, technicians and fans who will certainly rally to see the game,” he wrote, urging the Italian Football Federation to not wait until the “first case of contagion” to take action.
Four other Serie A games are due to go ahead on Sunday, including the heavyweight clash between Juventus and Inter Milan in Turin.The games are currently due to go ahead as planned.
Inter Milan’s president Steven Zhang had told CNN Sport he is confident the Serie A season can be finished, even if it means playing matches behind closed doors.