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Napoli confirm second positive COVID-19 test

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There are now clear signs that Genoa infected the team, but Sunday’s game remains on as scheduled.

FBL-ITA-SERIEA-NAPOLI-JUVENTUS Photo by ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP via Getty Images

Napoli have confirmed a second positive COVID-19 test in the aftermath of their exposure to the massive outbreak at Genoa last week.

The Partenopei hammered the Grifone on Sunday afternoon to the tune of 6-0, with many of those goals coming in the second half. Genoa players began to report symptoms after the game, and the count now stands at 22 positive tests among the team’s players and staff, at least six of whom were on the field against Napoli.

Piotr Zielinski was the first Napoli player to test positive earlier in the week, and now the team has confirmed that a second player, Eljif Elmas, has come back positive in their next round of swabs. As of this posting, there has been no change in the status of Sunday’s kickoff in the game between Juventus and Napoli at the Allianz.

I’m just going to come out and say this: to play Sunday’s game would be completely irresponsible. Given what we know about the nature of the virus—it spreads quickly, takes one to two weeks to incubate before it shows up as a positive test, and is communicable well before that point—it’s very much likely that Zielinski and Elmas are not the only players infected, simply the only ones who have tested positive so far. The risk of a Napoli player taking the field while unknowingly infectious is simply too great for Sunday’s game to go forward.

Here in the US we’ve seen an incident where a baseball game has been played with players who eventually turned out to be sick taking the field without the virus being transmitted between teams (side note: f&$# the Marlins), but the nature of baseball, with its players almost universally spread out across the entire field and barely ever touching each other, makes that sport inherently safer in this environment. Soccer, despite what the guys making the rules would like us to think, is a contact sport, and in situations like set pieces the majority of the players on the field are bunched up together in a small area. As has already been seen with Zielinski and now Elmas, the potential for transmitting the virus in over the course of a match looks to be very real.

As Danny mentioned late last night/early this morning (depending on your time zone), Napoli owner Aurelio De Laurentiis reached out to Andrea Agnelli last night to discuss a potential postponement of the game—a commendable act, to be sure—but the fact of the matter is the Lega Serie A should have stepped in and postponed this game immediately upon seeing just how widespread the Genoa outbreak had become. The priority here needs to be making sure the players are safe, not squeezing games in between potential outbreaks. The whole situation is giving one flashbacks to the beginning of this crisis, when the league doled out postponements piecemeal until the situation in the country at large became too critical to do anything but stop the league entirely.

While the situation isn’t as dire as that at this time (and pray God it doesn’t become so again), the league needs to get its head on straight and postpone Sunday’s game, for the sake of everyone involved.