Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Slovakia v Republic of Ireland play-off in doubt after Government ban

James McClean celebrates scoring a penalty in the Republic's friendly against Slovakia in March 2016

A 14-day ban on all sporting events in Slovakia because of coronavirus has put in doubt the Euro 2020 play-off with the Republic of Ireland on 26 March.

Slovak Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini revealed the two-week ban on sporting, cultural and other events organised by public authorities.

The EU member country has reported seven cases of the infection so far.

Earlier on Monday, the Slovak FA said the match in Bratislava could be played behind closed doors.

Amid concerns over coronavirus, the Slovak FA said they would respect any decision of the country's health officials.

The Slovak FA said refunds would be given to fans if the game goes ahead behind closed doors.

Youth matches in Slovakia have already been suspended indefinitely.

Around 2,200 Republic fans have bought tickets for the game and it was anticipated additional supporters would also travel to Slovakia.

"The Slovak FA will fully respect the decision of the chief health officer of the Slovak Republic designated by him in connection with the presence of spectators at the match against Ireland," said a Slovak FA statement.

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.

The Slovak FA statement also said that the country's senior clubs had been told to tell players to restrict interactions during goals celebrations and also not to shake hands as part of precautions.

The Football Association of Ireland said it was in "communication with the Slovakian FA and local authorities" regarding the 26 March game.

"As of today, Monday, the game is scheduled to go ahead as planned but talks will continue involving all parties," said the FAI.


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