Newcastle United, West Ham United Ban Handshakes to Guard Against Coronavirus

AFP

London: Premier League clubs Newcastle and West Ham have introduced a handshake ban to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, their managers said on Friday.

Sports events across the world are increasingly being disrupted by the virus although the Premier League programme is currently unaffected.

"There's a ritual here that everybody shakes hands with everybody as soon as we see each other every morning -- we've stopped that on the advice of the doctor," said Newcastle manager Steve Bruce.

"We are like everybody else. Thankfully, we've got a superb doctor here and he will keep us informed of what we have to do.

"We're glued to the TV for where it's going to go next and let's hope it doesn't get any worse in this country."

West Ham boss David Moyes said his players had been supplied with hand gel.

"We've also agreed to no shaking hands at the moment, just fist bumps," he said. "If we score tomorrow, of course they'll be able to celebrate."

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said the club took the threat of the coronavirus seriously but there was no current advice not to shake hands at the club.

"We don't do some things that we maybe usually would do but that's when the flu is going around, it's for us the same," he told his pre-match press conference. "We cannot do anything different to that.

"In the end nobody has told us yet that we don't have to play football so as long as that doesn't happen we will play football, which is a contact sport, not to forget."

The clash between Juventus and title rivals Inter Milan is among five Serie A games that will be played behind closed doors this weekend because of the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

Switzerland's Football League announced on Friday that all weekend Super League matches would be postponed to a later date.

In cycling, the UAE Tour was abandoned on Thursday after two Italian staff members of one of the teams taking part tested positive for the coronavirus.

The virus has proliferated around the globe over the past week, emerging in every continent except Antarctica, prompting many governments and businesses to try to stop people travelling or gathering in crowded places.

It has killed more than 2,800 people and infected over 83,000 worldwide -- the vast majority in China -- since it emerged apparently from an animal market in a central Chinese city in late December.