The Champions League game at the center of Italy's pandemic 03/26/2020

Atalanta fans cheer during the UEFA Champions League football match between against Valencia in Milan's San Siro Stadium on February 19

"I don't remember the date [of the match] Atalanta vs Valencia and I don't remember if this epidemic had already outburst, but the people who went had no clue of what was going on". Almost 30 busloads of fans made the 60-kilometre trip from Bergamo to Milan.

On Feb. 19, tens of thousands of fans of Atalanta, the northern Italian city of Bergamo's hometown team, poured into neighboring Milan, which was playing host to the club's Champions League match against Spanish club Valencia.

"The match was a biological bomb", Giorgio Gori informed Spanish paper Marca, in a meeting usingFacebook "At that time we did not recognize what was occurring".

"I'm sure that 40,000 people hugging and kissing each other while standing a centimetre apart - four times, because Atalanta scored four goals (the final result was 4-1) - was definitely a huge accelerator for contagion", Lorini told AP. Unfortunately, we couldn't have known.

At that point in the pandemic, Wuhan had already been on lockdown for weeks and there were confirmed cases as far as the U.S. The virus still felt distant somehow despite that in all likelihood it was already circulating in Italy and beyond.

"Many watched the game in groups and there were lots of contact [among fans] that night". Atalanta said on Tuesday that its goalkeeper, Marco Sportiello, became the first on its club and the 15th in Italy's Serie A to test positive.


But the mayor of Bergamo, where Atalanta is located, believes the first leg contributed to the massive spread of COVID-19 in Italy and Spain, the two countries with the highest death tolls and in particular Bergamo, where more than 1,000 people have died in Bergamo, making it the most deadly province in all of Italy.

Since then, Valencia announced that 35% of their employees had tested positive.

At the time, few in Italy were greatly concerned about Covid-19.

Over the past month, Atalanta have mourned the deaths of five former staff members.

"The top of the civil safety company has talked in regards to the probability that for each confirmed constructive case there are in all probability 10 precise positives".

Atalanta made history as when it qualified for the UEFA Champions League knockout phase after losing its first three games and failing to win any of its first four matches. In the meantime, both the Bergamo team and Valencia are left wondering about the unforeseen effects of their match in February.

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