Bergamo mayor Giorgio Gori has labelled Atalanta's Champions League clash with Valencia a 'biological bomb' as he believes it caused the coronavirus to spread in Italy and Spain.
Atalanta played host to Valencia at the San Siro on February 19 with 44,000 fans supporting their respective sides in Milan.
Gori believes the match is a major factor why Bergamo is the worst hit province in the country, with 6,728 confirmed cases.
He is quoted by Spanish newspaper Marca as saying on Facebook: “The match was a biological bomb.
“At that time we did not know what was happening.
“If the virus was already circulating, the forty thousand fans who went to San Siro were infected.
“No one knew that the virus was already circulating among us.
“Many watched the game in groups and there were lots of contact [between fans] that night.
“The virus passed from one person to another.”
Atalanta play their Champions League fixtures at the San Siro in Milan because their stadium is being renovated.
Their fans would have travelled back to Bergamo from Milan before celebrating their side's impressive 4-1 win with other supporters back home.
Valencia fans could have also spread the virus after returning from Italy.
Italy has had the most deaths despite the pandemic starting in Wuhan, China. Spain is now just behind China with their death toll increasing at unfortunate speed.
Over 6,820 people have died in Italy due to the coronavirus pandemic while 2,991 have died in Spain.
A local doctor in Bergamo echoed the mayor's thoughts by pinning blame on the Champions League fixture for spreading the virus.
A doctor is quoted by Off The Ball as telling journalist Paddy Agnew: 'One of the senior doctors at the at the Giovanni XXIII Hospital in Bergamo is convinced that [that game] was a "biological bomb".
“'What happened was that 40,000 Atalanta fans travelled down together, went and celebrated before and afterwards and returned home.
"What they hadn't realised was that many of them were infected, because at that point [February 19] there had not been one death in Italy. Three weeks later, 3,033 people died in a week in Bergamo.'