The Italian government has implemented precautionary measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus

By Benjamin VanHoose
March 09, 2020 01:29 PM
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Credit: VINCENZO PINTO/AFP via Getty

Cristiano Ronaldo achieved a milestone in his soccer career in front of a phantom crowd.

On Sunday, the 35-year-old athlete played his 1,000th official game as a professional, bringing his Juventus team to victory over Inter Milan, 2-0. Due to precautionary measures to stop the spread of coronavirus, the match was played at an empty Allianz Stadium in Turin, Italy.

Ronaldo had some fun with the unusual scenario, according to CNN, as he high-fived nonexistent fans before the game and pretended to soak up applause from the vacant stands.

According to the outlet, only essential personnel was permitted to attend the game, and everyone submitted to a temperature check prior to being admitted.

Ronaldo shared his excitement with fans on Instagram after the win.

Credit: Daniele Badolato/Juventus FC/Juventus FC/Getty

“So proud to reach 1000 official games in my career with a very important victory that put us on the top of the table again!💪🏽,” he wrote. “Thank you to all my teammates, coaches, my family & friends and to my fans that helped me to reach this great achievement.”

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All sporting events in Italy are forced to play without audiences until at least April 3, per government orders, The New York Times reported. Premier Giuseppe Conte said that by not having fans attend, it will help “prevent further opportunities of infection,” according to the outlet.

Responding to the idea of holding games in the U.S. without a live audience in the arena to play for, NBA star LeBron James said he wouldn’t take to the basketball court in that scenario.

I ain’t playing,” James told reporters at the Staples Center after a game on Friday, according to USA Today. “I ain’t got the fans in the crowd? That’s who I play for. I play for my teammates; I play for the fans — that’s what it’s all about.”

The Los Angeles Lakers athlete added: “If I show up to an arena and there are no fans in there, I ain’t playing. They can do what they want to do.”