Football in Argentina is on the verge of being suspended as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, after days of debate and games behind closed doors.
In two letters sent to the respective heads of the organisation, Tourism and Sports Minister Matías Lammens asked the Argentine Football Association (AFA) and the Superliga (Argentina's top flight) to suspend the matches of "all categories" of football in Argentina and also suggested that clubs cancel training sessions to avoid the spread of the coronavirus .
The letters were sent to AFA President Claudio Tapia and Superliga President Marcelo Tinelli, who recently assumed the role after Mariano Elizondo stepped down.
"By virtue of the situation of public knowledge within the framework of the new measures adopted by the national government regarding the coronavirus and having received the concern of Futbolistas Argentinos Agremiados [Argentine Footballers' Union], we ask that you please suspend the playing of the matches of all categories scheduled for the entity that you preside over until March 31, 2020," it read.
Minutes later, the Superliga, through its official Twitter account, immediately announced the postponement of the Copa de Superliga, which started last weekend.Earlier Wednesday, Tinelli – who is also the president of local side San Lorenzo – had said he was "absolutely in agreement" with calls to postpone matches.
There was no word from AFA at the time of writing.
To date, Argentina has 65 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and has recorded two fatalities.
Many leagues across the continent have already been cancelled, but Argentina's clubs have for the most part continued playing behind closed doors. Over the past week, a host of footballers expressed concerns about continuing playing, with River Plate even refusing to play one match last week against Atlético Tucumán.
Club captains were due to meet Wednesday to discuss their next steps.
President Alberto Fernández, who has announced a series of measures designed to slow down the spread of the virus, had previously said he was happy for football to continue.
"If football is played behind closed doors, I have no problems," he said at a press conference last week, hoping that rights holders would put the matches on free to air.
However, the national government has since shifted its position, after rumours that players, coaches and staff at football clubs may have walked off the job in protest.
Earlier today, regional football's governing body, CONMEBOL, announced the postponement of the Copa América for one year.