Valencia midfielder Daniel Wass said it was ‘terrible’ to play their Champions League encounter against Atalanta in February: “Many players became ill.”
In March, Giorgio Gori, mayor of Bergamo, gave an interview – as cited by Marca – to say that the game “was a biological bomb.”
A report in Cadena Ser claimed that that the February meeting in Milan is now thought to be the primary source of the mass spread of the virus in the northern Lombardy region of the country.
A statement from Valencia on 16 March confirmed 35% of their squad had tested positive and also mentioned having to play on February 19 in an ‘area confirmed high risk by the Italian authorities days later.’
Valencia players Ezequiel Garay, Jose Gaya and Eliaquim Mangala are among those who tested positive for the virus, with all now recovered.
“It was terrible to play that match against Atalanta, many players became ill,” Wass told TV3, as cited by Marca.
“I wish I was in Denmark now. My wife and two children are in Denmark, because we believe that, despite everything, it is safer to be in Denmark than here in Spain.
“There have been many deaths (in Spain) and hospitals are overcrowded. There are not many people on the streets. For the past six weeks, we have not been allowed to leave our homes. It is difficult, especially when talking to the family in Denmark, who can go for a walk.”
Luca Lorini – the intensive care director of Bergamo’s Giovanni Hospitali XXIII unit – said in March that the Champions League game in Milan, played in front of 44,236 people, was a critical moment.
“I’m sure that 40,000 people hugging and kissing each other at a distance of one centimetre for four times, as Atalanta scored four times, well, those were an incredible accelerator for the infection,” Lorini explained, in quotes cited by ESPN.
Valencia lost the match in Italy 4-1 before their elimination was confirmed in the Mestalla the following month, in a game played behind closed doors.