December 7, 2021

Juventus-Napoli set to go ahead despite coronavirus chaos in Naples

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Gennaro Gattuso’s side have been prevented from travelling to Turin by local authorities after Piotr Zielinski and Eljif Elmas tested positive

Juventus’ huge Serie A clash with Napoli on Sunday is likely to go ahead despite the latter not having travelled due to chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Local health authorities have blocked Napoli from travelling to Turin due to a possible Covid-19 outbreak after two players, Piotr Zielinski and Eljif Elmas, tested positive.

A member of the team’s staff has also tested positive, as have two staff members at Juventus.

Despite Gennaro Gattuso’s squad not being allowed to travel, on Saturday, Juventus announced that their team would take to the field regardless.

Earlier on Sunday, Pietro Lo Monaco, an FIGC council member, put the match into further doubt after telling Radio Kiss Kiss: “We are moving towards this path. Juventus-Napoli will be postponed to a date to be decided. The rule is clear.”

Now, however, Serie A themselves have released a second statement insisting that the game will go ahead, meaning Napoli will forfeit the game and Juve will record a 3-0 victory as a result.

The league said: “Following Napoli’s official request [to postpone the game] the Lega Calcio states that the current rules aim to guarantee the health of everybody, the equal treatment for all clubs and the respect of the principals of sportsmanship.

“The statement of ASL Campania asks fiduciary isolation for the close contacts of Piotr Zielinski. Therefore, in this case it is applied the FIGC protocol agreed with the Technical-Scientific Committee and integrated with the notice of the Italian Health Minister on June 18, 2020 and that was not taken into account in the email sent by the vice-head of cabinet of the Regione Campania.

“The same rule was applied to other cases in the past and, for instance, it allowed Torino to play against Atalanta, Milan’s trip to Crotone, Genoa’s away game at the San Paolo vs Napoli and Atalanta’s home match against Cagliari.

“Even if there are cases of players in the group who tested positive for Coronavirus, the protocol provides certain and mandatory rules that allow to play games fielding all the footballers who tested negative through exams undergone within the time range given by the health authorities.

“The Council of the Lega Calcio did also approve a set of rules that can lead to the postponement of game only with several cases of players positive to the virus. These conditions can’t be applied to the current Napoli case at the moment and there are no decisions of the local authorities that prevent the game from being played.”

The potential impact on the Serie A title race is clear, with Napoli one of the regular contenders to dethrone perennial champions Juventus in recent seasons.