Italian football clubs and players raise millions in fight against coronavirus

Italy has become a epicentre of the virus outbreak as fatalities keep rising

epa08300485 (FILE) - General view of the Stadio Olimpico prior to the Italian Serie A soccer match between SS Lazio and Hellas Verona in Rome, Italy, 11 February 2016 (re-issued on 17 March 2020). The UEFA EURO 2020 has been postponed to 2021 amid the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, the Norwegian Football Association (NFF) announced on 17 March 2020.  EPA/CLAUDIO PERI *** Local Caption *** 53943304

Italian football clubs, players and fans have come together to raise millions of euros to support the country’s stretched health system amid the devastating coronavirus pandemic.

Thursday was one of the darkest days in Italy’s battle against Covid-19 as the death toll rose to 3,405, overtaking China as the highest number of fatalities from the disease in one country.

A state of nationwide lockdown remains in place as the government looks to control the spread of the virus and all sports events have been suspended since March 9.

In Serie A, the number of cases among professional footballers rose to 13 when Juventus’ French midfielder Blaise Matuidi and Hellas Verona player Mattia Zaccagni tested positive.

But a series of campaigns by clubs, players and owners have helped fight back against a crisis that is being felt at every level of Italian society.

AS Roma delivered 8,000 pairs of protective gloves and 2,000 bottles of hand sanitiser to churches around the capital, where they will be redistributed to those most in need, while Inter Milan donated 300,000 face masks to the public health department.

First-team players and staff at Inter have donated €500,000 (Dh1.9million) while crowdfunding campaigns set up by Roma, AC Milan, Juventus and Fiorentina have each raised more than €420,000.

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Football stars who have tested positive

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A campaign set up by Lazio highlighted the importance of people continuing to go and give blood, reassuring house-bound residents that it is permitted and safe to do so.

Individuals have also been at the forefront of the fundraising charge.

AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic launched a "Kick the Virus Away" campaign on Thursday, putting in the first €100,000 himself, and his fund has passed the €250,000 mark.

Others, including SPAL striker Andrea Petagna, Napoli captain Lorenzo Insigne, Torino forward Simone Zaza and Juventus winger Federico Bernardeschi, have raised or donated more than €430,000 between them.

Former Roma and Italy forward Francesco Totti also weighed in, donating 15 machines for monitoring vital signs to a hospital in Rome.

The largest contributions came from two of the biggest names in the country. Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, owner of third-tier team AC Monza and former president of AC Milan, made a €10m donation to the Lombardy region on Tuesday to help build a 400-bed intensive care unit

The Agnelli family, owners of Juventus football club and the Fiat Chrysler Group, matched the sum to support the national health service, while Juve announced that the family holding company Exor is in the process of buying 150 artificial respirators for Italian hospitals.

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