Bergamo mayor Giorgio Gori claims a Champions League match between Atalanta and Valencia in Italy ‘infected 40,000 fans’ in attendance.
Atalanta hosted Valencia at Inter Milan’s San Siro last month as their 21,000-capacity home ground in Bergamo, Italy was deemed too small.
The coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 400,000 people worldwide, including over 19,000 deaths.
And Italy has been the world’s most affected country with 6,820 deaths so far and Bergamo is one of their worst-hit towns with 3,800 cases.
Gori believes Atalanta’s 4-1 win over Valencia in Milan, which had more than 44,000 supporters watching, started the spread of the deadly disease in Europe.
He told Marca: “The match was a biological bomb. At that time we did not know what was happening.
“If the virus was already circulating, the 40,000 fans who went to San Siro were infected.
“No one knew that the virus was already circulating among us.
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“Many watched the game in groups and there were lots of contact [between fans] that night.
“The virus passed from one person to another.”
Meanwhile, Immunologist professor Francesco Le Foche insists it was ‘madness’ for the game to go ahead.
He said: “It’s probably that there were several major triggers and catalysts for the diffusion of the virus.
”The Atalanta-Valencia game could very well have been one of them. It was the apex of collective euphoria in a unique football season for this club.
”A month has passed since that match, so the timing is pertinent.
“The aggregation of thousands of people, centimetres from each other, engaging in manifestations of euphoria like hugging, shouting, all of that could’ve favoured viral reciprocation.
”I have to imagine many didn’t want to miss that game if they had tickets, even if they felt a slight fever.
“With hindsight, it was madness to play with a crowd present, but at the time things weren’t clear enough. It’d be unthinkable now.”