Napoli failed to show up in Turin tonight and as a result, Juventus are expecting a forfeiture to be announced by the Lega Serie A, with the requisite 3-0 decision that comes with it.
The local Neapolitan health authority ASL released another statement later on Sunday indicating they did tell Napoli to self-isolate as a result of the positive tests for two players, Piotr Zielinski and Eljif Elmas.
Juventus medic Luca Stefanini insisted that the Bianconeri were just following protocol.
“The statement contains nothing new. In this specific case, the moment a positive case is registered, there has to immediately be a bubble imposed.
“That is what we did with the players, staff, medical staff and matchday group when we had two positive tests this week. There are also the swabs, again as per protocol, which came back negative and we are therefore able to play the game.
“I do not know if Napoli did the same. I only know that we imposed the protocol and followed it to the letter.”
Club President Andrea Agnelli was also on hand at the Allianz Stadium, and spoke to the media later in the evening.
“I am here because it is only right that we express our opinion. We need clarity. There are protocols that are very clear for situations like this, the situation was predictable, that there would be one or two COVID cases in the matchday squad.
“At that point, we go to the protocol passed by the CTS and the Lega Serie A, which is that we go into fiduciary isolation at a structure agreed with the ASL.
“That allows us all to go into the structure, to continue training and playing when tested regularly. There is clarity, the Federation worked well with the Ministry for Health and CTS to make sure we all know what needs to be done.
“Juventus discovered there were two COVID cases yesterday, so naturally we all went into the bubble so we’d be ready to play this game.”
AC Milan and Torino have also had two COVID cases in their respective squads, but their games had not been postponed.
“The protocol was drawn up by the Government and the CTS. If we go into situations with borderline scenarios, then we can look to the protocol and then work out the individual situations.
“The focus remains on public health, of course, but this protocol was drawn up in order to allow us to continue our profession.”
The protocol had been agreed on between the Government and Lega Serie A to end the lockdown and states that as long as a team had 13 players available, including one goalkeeper, a match would have to go ahead. There is an asterisk there though, stating that the local authorities (ASL) could overrule that.
The situation in Napoli is such that twenty people were self-isolating at home, but would only move to the Castel Volturno training ground bubble on Monday, but had Agnelli spoken to with his Napoli counterpart Aurelio De Laurentiis?
“His message was to postpone the game, which can well be a legitimate request, but there are some very clear rules and we all have to stick to them.
“Any industry has its rules and if we don’t follow them, that is an error not just as professionals, but as citizens.”
Clearly the protocol has failed, would changes be required?
“It is not up to me to say if the rules need to be changed. All I can do is follow the rules as they are written. The protocol was written precisely for what happens if there is a positive test.
“As we are in international competition too, we have three swabs per week – all two days before the game. It’s pretty much inevitable that all teams will register cases. I believe most if not all of ours were asymptomatic, so if we hadn’t been so closely tested and monitored, they would’ve probably continued to go along their business.”
Agnelli was also asked what he would have done had Juventus received a note from the ASL to self-isolate if they had to travel to play Napoli, and seemed to suggest that the club had pressured the ASL to release their advice.
“We would not have left, but we don’t believe the ASL would’ve released that statement. If they did, it’s evidently because they felt that there was some failure to follow the existing protocol.
“In my view, the ASL would not need to intervene if the protocol that was sent out to all clubs was followed meticulously.”
No matter how all of this settles out, the end result is that football loses out.