MILAN (Reuters) - 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 COVID-19.
Serie A, however, refused to postpone the match, arguing that the ASL had failed to take into account the health protocol which had been agreed between the government and football authorities.
This stipulates that, even if players test positive, the rest of the squad can continue training and playing provided they remain 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.
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 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.
Another concern is that Napoli have said they will challenge any decision to award the match to Juventus, which could lead to a lengthy legal battle.
Gravina would not comment on this, saying it was up to the disciplinary tribunal to decide, although he added: “Of course, if holes start appearing and someone makes a mistake, then they will have to pay.”
Reporting by Elvira Pollina and Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge
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