The saga of Juve’s Round 3 fixture against Napoli took another turn on Tuesday as the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) upheld Napoli’s appeal.
Juve had been handed a 3-0 win and Napoli docked a point when the Partenopei failed to show up on for their October 4 match in Turin as scheduled. Napoli claimed they were under a travel ban by local health authorities after two players tested positive for COVID-19 after their match with Genoa. By the time those tests came through, it was clear that Genoa was in the midst of a full-blown outbreak, with nearly two dozen players positive for the disease, at least six of whom had been on the field against Napoli days before. But the league ruled that Napoli did not follow proper protocols, and awarded Juve the win.
Napoli’s two previous appeals to the Lega Serie A and the FIGC had been denied, but CONI—the final domestic resort for appeals of this nature before the Court of Arbitration for Sport becomes involved—has accepted their version of events. That means the forfeit is vacated, as is Napoli’s point penalty. Juve, who had been in third place on 27 points, now drop to 24, tied with Napoli and officially in fourth. As a knock-on effect, Adrien Rabiot, who was supposed to be suspended for that game after being sent off against Roma, will now have to serve that suspension against Udinese, as the game that had been counted as his suspension is now non-existent.
When the game might be played is now an open question. Both teams have incredibly dense fixture lists coming up. Between the league, Coppa Italia, and Supercoppa—ironically against Napoli— both clubs will be playing every three days once play resumes after the short Christmas break, and both teams have European commitments as well. It’s entirely possible this game doesn’t get played for a while. Even if it is squeezed into the one window that may accommodate the game before the end of January, playing the game may work to Juve’s advantage. Given the form the two teams were in in October, odds were that Napoli would’ve run out of the Allianz Stadium winners. Now, with Juve improving and Napoli having run into some problems, I for one would go into a game against Napoli with a lot more confidence. One way or the other, it’s time to go beat them in the field.