Slovakia v Ireland: Euro 2020 play-off 'likely to be played behind closed doors'

Slovakia v Ireland: Euro 2020 play-off 'likely to be played behind closed doors'

IRELAND'S Euro 2020 play-off game against Slovakia has been thrown into serious doubt due to coronavirus fears.

The match, which is due to take place on March 26 in the Slovak capital of Bratislava, is likely to be played 'behind closed doors' in order to try and contain any spread of Covid-19.

Initially, it was hoped that the game could go ahead as normal, but now, playing the fixtures without fans present likely represents the best-case scenario.

The Slovakian Football Association has said it will take guidance from the country’s health authorities about how best to host the match in the face of the growing threat posed by the coronavirus.

No official decision has been made as of yet, but the country has suspended all sporting fixtures for the next two weeks (until the 23rd), but there are growing concerns that the suspension could be extended.

Primary schools, secondary schools and universities have been closed in the Slovakian capital after the country reported seven cases of the virus.

In a statement, the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) said: "As of today, Monday, the game is scheduled to go ahead as planned but talks will continue involving all parties. The Slovakian FA are in constant communication with their Government and health officials and will inform us immediately of any update.

"The FAI will continue to heed the advice of the Irish Government and UEFA in relation to this game and will relay any news around the fixtures to supporters and staff as soon as it becomes available."

2,200 Irish fans are estimated to have bought tickets for the match, and it's thought that even more will be looking to make the trip to Slovakia in just over a two weeks' time.

The FAI added that refunds will be administered to fans who bought tickets should the game be played behind closed doors.

The winners of the Slovakia v Republic game are scheduled to play either Bosnia-Herzegovina or Northern Ireland away five days later when a spot at Euro 2020 will be up for grabs, but such a fixture is likely to meet the same fate, whatever that is.