Italian FA boss hopeful of Serie A completion

ROME • Italian football chief Gabriele Gravina is refusing to write off the Serie A season due to the global coronavirus pandemic, insisting the league will extend into August if necessary.

Italy has seen more Covid-19 fatalities than any other country, with latest figures showing that 7,503 people have died from the infection. The northern regions, including the epicentre of Lombardy, have been the hardest hit, and while the south has been comparatively spared, cases are rising steadily.

The Scudetto has been suspended since March 9 and although players from several clubs have tested positive for the virus, including Juventus duo Blaise Matuidi and Paulo Dybala, the president of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), Gravina, remains hopeful of a resumption.

"I don't give up easily," he told local station Radio Marte. "As long as there is a chance, I will keep alive the hope of restarting the championships.

"I am aware that it is premature to think about a date, but we must think positively... and hope that this situation ends as soon as possible."

There are 12 match days still to play, plus several outstanding matches. Gravina has estimated the campaign could be completed in 45 to 60 days.

"If we are given the month of July and August, that could be the right period," he said.

He also stood by an earlier suggestion to use a play-off system to decide the league if there was not enough time to complete the original schedule.

He added: "I proposed it only as a lifeboat. But for the future, we'll work on it because, for me, it remains an interesting idea and I hope one day, it can be shared by the protagonists, so as to give even more interest to Serie A."

But not everyone shares his optimism. According to a report in local daily Gazzetta dello Sport on Wednesday, Serie A clubs are getting more and more doubtful about the season resuming. It added that if the campaign is scrapped, then the current standings will be final - Juventus are top on 63 points, one ahead of second-placed Lazio - and no team will be relegated.

The top-two teams in Serie B will, however, be promoted, meaning next season could feature 22 sides.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2020, with the headline 'Italian FA boss hopeful of Serie A completion'. Print Edition | Subscribe