Ludogorets make UEFA plea amid coronavirus worry before Europa League clash with Inter at San Siro

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Bulgarian champions Ludogorets have demanded assurances that it will be safe to travel to Milan for Thursday's Europa League clash with Inter after Italy's coronavirus outbreak.

Christian Eriksen and Romelu Lukaku scored as Inter beat Ludogorets 2-0 in the first leg in Bulgaria, but reports have already suggested the San Siro return match could be played behind closed doors.

Inter's game against Sampdoria on Sunday was postponed over local health concerns, with Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte confirming the fixture was one of several that would not go ahead.

"We intend to suspend all sporting events in Lombardy and Veneto programmed for tomorrow," Conte told reporters upon leaving an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday. 

As well as Inter-Sampdoria, Atalanta's home clash with Sassuolo, Cagliari's visit to Verona and Torino-Parma have also been suspended.

Italy is battling to contain the virus, which is officially named Covid-19, after the deaths of two people and confirmation that dozens more have tested positive.

In a statement issued on Sunday, Ludogorets expressed their concern and appealed to Inter and UEFA to provide swift clarification.

The statement said: "FC Ludogorets have formally asked UEFA and FC Inter about the situation in the Italian region of Lombardy, whose capital is Milan. Coronavirus-infected cases have been reported there in recent days.

"More than 600 supporters of the Bulgarian champions are expected to support their favourites at the San Siro on Thursday (February 27) in the rematch of the 1/16 finals of the Europa League.

"Many of them have already purchased plane tickets, and there is organised bus travel from Bulgaria to Italy.

"Ludogorets expect an official statement from the European headquarters and a quick explanation from Inter about the situation in the city. If received, the club will immediately notify supporters of the situation in Milan by a message on its official website.

"PFC Ludogorets will liaise with Bulgarian diplomatic authorities on the situation in Italy."

Italy is not the only footballing nation to have seen coronavirus become a major issue in 2020. 

In China, of course, the epicentre of infections, domestic matches have been uniformly postponed, with the Super League scheduled to kick off this weekend but now facing indefinite delay; while the country's Asian Champions League participants will have to play their away matches first. 

Latest estimates have the number of infected worldwide at almost 80,000, while there have been more than 2,000 confirmed deaths from the virus.