Wolves have condemned the decision not to postpone their Europa League tie with Olympiakos, claiming the trip to Greece “poses unnecessary risks” to their players and staff.
The Premier League side’s appeal to have Thursday’s last-16 first leg called off was rejected by Uefa and the game will go ahead behind closed doors as the spread of coronavirus continues to affect sporting events. Olympiakos owner Evangelos Marinakis, who is also Nottingham Forest’s majority owner, announced on Tuesday that he had contracted the virus.
Wolves confirmed they would respect Uefa’s decision and play the match, but urged the governing body to “consider alternative options moving forwards, as this will not be the last fixture to be affected by coronavirus”.
“Wolves can confirm that a formal request submitted to Uefa proposing the postponement of Thursday’s Europa League tie at Olympiacos has been rejected by the governing body,” a club statement read.
“The match will take place, behind closed doors, in line with the Greek government’s enforced temporary suspension of spectators attending sporting events, to limit the spread of coronavirus (Covid-19) in Greece. Our position is that the trip poses unnecessary risks to our players, staff, supporters and the families of all who travel, at such critical and uncertain times. Our concern is also for our opponents, whose players and staff have today been tested, and will now be expected to play their part in an important fixture, under the difficult and challenging circumstances of their owner suffering with the virus.
“There is also disappointment that the match will be played without home and away supporters, as that is part of what makes European competition so special, as well as the fact our fans have already contended with similar obstacles on our Europa League journey already this season.
“We believe that there are some things that are more important than football, and that the good health of our pack and the general public is one of them. However, we respect the decision of Uefa and the integrity of the competition, and we will travel tomorrow to Greece to play the fixture.
“We hope that our request to Uefa, and our acceptance of their decision, can act as the catalyst for them to consider alternative options moving forwards, as this will not be the last fixture to be affected by coronavirus.”