The second leg of the Atalanta versus Valencia round of 16 UEFA Champions League tie was played behind closed doors, but the first leg in Bergamo was in a full Giuseppe Meazza stadium in Milan, and this is believed to be among the main factors for the spread of the coronavirus in the city.
This was the biggest soccer game in Atalanta's history and a third of Bergamo's population made the trip to the San Siro, with nearly 2,500 Valencia fans traveling for the game.
This game has now been termed “Game Zero,” and it was actually played two days before the first case of locally transmitted COVID-19 was confirmed in Italy.
“We were mid-February so we didn’t have the circumstances of what was happening,” Bergamo Mayor Giorgio Gori said this week during a live Facebook chat with the Foreign Press Association in Rome.
“If it’s true what they’re saying that the virus was already circulating in Europe in January, then it’s very probable that 40,000 Bergamaschi in the stands of San Siro, all together, exchanged the virus between them. As is possible that so many Bergamaschi that night got together in houses, bars to watch the match and did the same."
"Unfortunately, we couldn't have known. No one knew the virus was already here," he added. "It was inevitable."
Just after the game, a journalist who traveled to the match from Valencia became the second person infected in the region, and it didn't take long before people who were in contact with him also had the virus, as did Valencia fans who were at the game.
As of Tuesday this week, nearly 7,000 people in Bergamo had tested positive for COVID-19 and more than 1,000 people had died from the virus - making Bergamo the most deadly province in all of Italy for the pandemic. The Valencia region had more than 2,600 people infected.
The spread of this virus has seen the postponement of the Serie A indefinitely, with several players including Paulo Dybala and Blaise Matuidi testing positive.