The Malta Independent 5 December 2020, Saturday

Napoli set to be handed 3-0 loss for failing to show at Juve

Associated Press Monday, 5 October 2020, 07:13 Last update: about 3 months ago

Napoli is likely to be handed a 3-0 loss by the Italian league’s judge for failing to show for its Serie A match at Juventus on Sunday night.

Napoli did not travel to Turin for the game after local health authorities ordered the squad into quarantine after two players tested positive for the coronavirus — midfielders Piotr Zielinski and Eljif Elmas.

Juventus followed its regular matchday routine on Sunday and arrived at the stadium for the scheduled 8:45 p.m. (1845 GMT) kickoff. In somewhat farcical scenes, several players walked out onto the field while a limited number of fans watched from the stands.

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It will not be known whether Juventus will be awarded a 3-0 win by default — or if the match has simply been postponed — until next week's disciplinary commission, where Napoli will make its case.

“The sporting rules are clear and say that if a team does not show up, they face disciplinary sanctions,” Juventus president Andrea Agnelli said. "The Sporting Judge will speak tomorrow, and based on his decision, there will be further reflections.

“It is evident that the fact that a team does not reach a stadium to play a planned match does not give a great image of Italian soccer, but we are provincial and we care little about what happens outside our borders, without considering the damage we do to soccer internationally.”

Vincenzo Spadafora, Italy’s sports minister, said he would also speak about the issue with the heads of the Italian soccer federation and the league, in two meetings already scheduled for Monday.

“The protocol proposed by the FIGC and validated by the Technical-Scientific Committee tried to make Italian soccer safe to allow the restart that everyone wanted,” Spadafora said Sunday. "It's clear however that the situation in general over the past few weeks has become even more complex, so much so that it hasn't left even the world of soccer immune despite the rigid rules.

“I want to make a really clear appeal for the much more important interest of health to prevail over whatever other logic or vested interests.”

Napoli had requested that the match be postponed and club president Aurelio De Laurentiis had also contacted Juventus asking the same.

“He texted me a couple of days ago, asking me to postpone the match,” Agnelli said. "My answer was that Juventus abides by the regulations.”

The Italian league’s protocol for COVID cases is the same as UEFA rules. If a team has 13 available players, including at least one goalkeeper, the game can go ahead.

“In regards to Napoli’s official request the Lega Serie A clarifies that the current system of rules must guarantee the health of everybody, equal treatment for all clubs and the respect of the principals of sportsmanship,” read a statement by the league’s governing body.

“On that matter it is opportune to remember that the statement issued by Campania health authorities only asks fiduciary isolation for the close contacts of Piotr Zielinski. Therefore, in this case the FIGC protocol agreed with the Technical-Scientific Committee should be applied. The protocol provides certain and mandatory rules that allow league matches to go ahead even if there are positive cases in the group, fielding the players who tested negative through exams undergone within the time range given by the health authorities.”

The entire Napoli team has been tested constantly after Napoli played Genoa last weekend. More than 20 Genoa players and staff members have tested positive.

Genoa’s match at Torino on Saturday was postponed.

“The Lega Serie A did also approve a precise set of rules to adopt if there are several positive cases and that can lead to the postponement of the match only if there are specific conditions which, at the moment, don’t apply to Napoli’s case,” continued the governing body’s statement.

INTER DROP POINTS

Inter Milan dropped its first points of the season as it drew 1-1 at Lazio in Serie A on Sunday, in a match that saw both teams reduced to 10 men late on.

Earlier, Atalanta made it three wins out of three with a 5-2 victory over Cagliari.

In Rome, Lazio was still smarting from a 4-1 defeat at home to Atalanta and was beset by injury problems.

It lost two more players to injury during the first half and also conceded the opener in the 30th minute when Ivan Perisic cut in from the left and managed to get the ball to Lautaro Martínez who turned and fired into the bottom left corner.

Martínez has scored in all three of Inter’s matches this season.

However, Inter has been weak at the back in its opening two games, conceding five goals, and its defense let it down again as Sergej Milinković-Savić was able to head home Francesco Acerbi’s cross for the equalizer 10 minutes into the second half.

Lazio forward Ciro Immobile, the league’s top scorer was sent off 20 minutes from time for hitting Inter midfielder Arturo Vidal who appeared to go down dramatically.

Inter midfielder Stefano Sensi was also shown a straight red card, with three minutes remaining, for a similar incident with Lazio defender Patric.

HIGH-SCORING ATALANTA

Atalanta offered up another attacking masterclass, taking its tally to 13 goals in three games.

It was the league’s top scoring team last season with 98 goals.

Luis Muriel gave Atalanta the perfect start after just seven minutes and, although Diego Godin equalized on his Cagliari debut, further goals from Alejandro “Papu” Gomez, Mario Pašalić and Duván Zapata put the home side 4-1 up at the break.

João Pedro reduced the deficit early in the second half but Sam Lammers sealed the match with his first goal for Atalanta with nine minutes remaining.

OTHER MATCHES

Rafael Leão scored twice as AC Milan beat newly promoted Spezia 3-0.

Theo Hernández netted the other goal with a superb solo run. All the goals came in the second half.

Elsewhere, Parma picked up its first points of the season with a 1-0 win over Hellas Verona.

Benevento beat Bologna 1-0.

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