March 2, 2020 / 11:56 AM / a month ago

Soccer-Serie A talking-points

MILAN, March 2 (Reuters) - Talking-points from the Serie A weekend where only four out of 10 matches were played due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy.

The six other matches had been authorised by the government, provided they were played behind closed doors, but Serie A, having initially announced on Thursday that they would go ahead without fans, changed its mind on Saturday and postponed them until May 13.

ALL OR NOTHING

Some clubs were unhappy at the decision to continue playing in regions unaffected by the coronavirus - such as Rome, Naples and Cagliari — saying that either all matches should go ahead or none.

“I feel that perhaps stopping the entire league would have been the fair thing to do,” said Roma’s director of sport Gianluca Petrachi.

Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso agreed.

“Either everyone plays, or nobody,” he said. “It makes no sense to play some games today and others on May 13 because situations change. Playing in a month or two are totally different games.”

PLENTY OF PROPOSALS FLOATING AROUND

Serie A will hold an emergency assembly on Wednesday to try and find a co-ordinated approach and it will not be short of suggestions.

One is that the matches which were postponed over the weekend be played between March 7 and 9 — including the heavyweight clash between Juventus and Inter Milan — and the matches currently scheduled for those days be moved forward.

Another, proposed by Napoli, is that the matches that were postponed be played this Wednesday and the midweek’s Coppa Italia semi-final second legs be moved to May.

SERIE A RUNNING OUT OF DATES

Whatever is decided, it is clear that Serie A is running out of free dates to reschedule matches as the season cannot be extended into June because of this year’s Euro 2020 tournament.

Some teams have had two matches postponed, including title-challenging Inter Milan who are also involved in the Coppa Italia and Europa League and have players who will travel to South America this month to play in two rounds of World Cup qualifiers.

Others have not had any games called off, including Lazio who have won both games in the last week and gone top of the table.

The ban on matches being played with spectators will remain in place in three regions — Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia Romagna — until March 8 at least, and could well be extended.

That suggests that the championship can only finish if matches are played behind closed doors. However, some clubs say that option was taken off the table by Serie A’s decision on Saturday.

“It looks like this tool can’t be used anymore. It has been de-legitimised by the decision the League took without consulting us,” said Inter Milan chief executive Giuseppe Marotta. (Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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