Italy clarifies Serie A protocol as Covid cases rise

MILAN • The Serie A season is not at risk, Italy's Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said on Monday, one day after the Juventus-Napoli match was abandoned due to an apparent conflict over implementation of the Covid-19 health rules.

Napoli failed to turn up for the match in Turin, saying their local health authority (ASL) would not allow them to leave Naples after two players tested positive for the coronavirus.

Serie A, however, refused to postpone the match, arguing that the ASL had failed to take into account the health protocols which had been agreed between the government and football authorities.

This stipulates that, even if players test positive, the rest of the team can continue to train and play - provided they are negative.

As a result of the disagreement, Juventus and match officials went to the stadium and waited in vain for Napoli to arrive, scenes which were highly embarrassing for Italian football.

Mr Spadafora said on Monday that the protocol was still valid although he also confirmed that ASLs could intervene in certain circumstances.

"We are not at risk of stopping the championship," he told reporters after meeting Italian football federation boss Gabriele Gravina.

"Everyone must follow the strict rules of the protocol, if the health situation changes, we as a government are also ready to change.

"The local health authority may intervene in special cases," he added. "The important thing is that the intervention is motivated by certain requirements, although these can vary."

Gravina was equally optimistic.

"If we all care about health protection and the protocol is respected by everyone in its entirety, I think we can rest assured that the championship can be played and run safely," he said.

Italian football was further rocked yesterday after Serie A chief Paolo dal Pino tested positive for Covid-19, sending Gravina into isolation.

"Asymptomatic and in isolation at home, he (dal Pino) will follow the procedures set out in the health protocol," a statement read. Gravina has also decided to quarantine "for prudential purposes, in the absence of symptoms".


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 07, 2020, with the headline Italy clarifies Serie A protocol as Covid cases rise. Subscribe