Napoli has got a landmark judgment concerning the Serie A fixture against Juventus which they had earlier been docked one point for not travelling to Turin over coronavirus cases in their camp.
The Pertonopei followed the local authorities advise after reporting two positive COVID-19 cases in the group, for Piotr Zielinski and Eljif Elmas and they decided to stay back in Naples in line with the advice of the local authority.
Juve performed the necessary match rituals by coming to the field. The match was declared a walkover after they didn’t see the Napoli contingents 45 minutes after the kick-off time.
This made the governing bodies of the league, the Lega Serie A and FIGC ruled that Napoli had not stuck rigidly to the agreed COVID-19 protocols, essentially not doing enough to ensure they could at least try to participate in the match.
Napoli gets landmark judgement after missing Juventus fixture
Napoli has now won its appeal. This means the game will have to be replayed and the point penalty is revoked. The Pertonopei has now leapfrogged Juventus to third on the log but they share 24 points.
After seeing two previous appeals already rejected, they finally got a verdict at the CONI (Italian Olympic Committee) Sports Guarantee Board.
Reacting to the judgement, Napoli lawyer Mattia Grassani described it as ‘a historic ruling’.
“Justice has been done. It is an historic sentence, the third level of appeal overturned the previous two. It’s a result that confirms the principle that games must be played and decided on the pitch.
“We cannot risk the health of our players and staff for a football match. It’s a victory of David against Goliath, in the sense that everyone assumed we would lose, while the CONI showed we were right with a sentence that cannot be appealed.
“The verdict accepts our appeal, annuls the previous verdict and gives back the docked point, as well as imposing that the game must be played.
“President Aurelio De Laurentiis is very happy, because winning at the third level of appeal gives a great feeling. The CONI found big holes in the previous ruling, as we had already pointed out.
“This sentence will now set a precedent. Now let the best team win.”
This could however backfire later. One will wonder why a team with just two COVID cases refuse to travel. It is hoped that the Lega Serie A and CONI have not set a bad precedent for teams that didn’t want to initially honour a match based on their current form or the opponent by running under the disguise of few COVID cases.
Coincidentally, an AZ Alkmaar team that defeated Napoli in the Europa league inside the Diego Maradona Stadium had 13 COVID cases and they honoured the match.
So, with this kind of judgement, many Serie A clubs will be given the opportunity to postpone fixtures they don’t to honour with just two COVID cases. Funny enough, Juve at that time also had two cases and they were ready to play. It’s just a call away to the authorities as done by Napoli in this instance.
No doubt, it’s a reason, but it is not genuine enough not to travel and honour games.
Meanwhile, Juventus and Napoli will meet each other in January for the Italian Super Cup. The most likely date for the rescheduled fixture is January 13 – a week before the Super Cup clash.