Serie A remains a long way behind the Premier League and La Liga because it is run in much the same way as every other Italian organisation: badly and with consistent inconsistency. Logic goes out the window, decisions are announced by one authority, changed by another, final verdicts are given at the last minute and it’s impossible to prepare for any of these eventualities. Who would be so foolish as to plan a trip to a Serie A match when you have no guarantee even a week beforehand that it’ll be played on the date you booked the flights and hotel? That’s not even the Coronavirus effect, that’s just a normal season.
The Coronavirus outbreak has inevitably brought the absolute worst out of people and institutions in Italy. At a time when we ought to come together for the common good, we tear everything to pieces bickering about who gets even the tiniest benefit or disadvantage from a situation that is out of our control. It’s shameful and pitiful to see Presidents and directors happy to throw the entire season into disarray because of their petulant refusal to do what is necessary rather than what they’d prefer.
There are only so many dates in a packed fixture list, especially with Euro 2020 coming up and for once thank goodness several Italian clubs still involved in European competition. So naturally we need to ruin all of that with our usual chaotic response fuelled entirely by paranoia and selfishness.
So many mistakes were made and they just cascaded, a disaster domino effect. Last week, Inter-Sampdoria, Atalanta-Sassuolo, Verona-Cagliari and Torino-Parma should’ve been played behind closed doors. It was evident already that the Coronavirus was going to spread rapidly, and the situation would not be resolved in a week. They should’ve just sucked it up and accepted this was necessary, just as Inter did in the Europa League with Ludogorets only a couple of days earlier.
That created an even tighter squeeze on the already-crammed calendar, particularly for Inter. Juventus-Inter should’ve been played behind closed doors, or at least treated differently from the other fixtures. I don’t care what you say about a precedent, the Derby d’Italia without fans is not the same as Sassuolo-Brescia in an empty stadium. This is a product as well, so having that played in silence at the same time as Real Madrid-Barcelona would’ve been damaging to the image of Serie A. Maybe not as damaging as the absolute chaos we’re going through now, but still damaging.
The complete lack of logic in some of these decisions damaged any credibility they still had. Atalanta and Bologna fans can travel from their Coronavirus hotspot areas to Lecce and Lazio games without any restriction, but a few days later fans from those same areas are banned from travelling to the Coppa Italia semi-final. It makes no sense whatsoever. It would’ve been logical enough to just say don’t travel from the affected areas, but the Government and Lega Serie A managed to get that wrong too.
Only in Italy are they still so obsessed about the idea of playing games simultaneously to ensure fairness. The Premier League often has tables organised with a game or even two in hand, it’s not considered unfair. Titles have been decided with teams sitting at home with their feet up watching their opponents drop points on TV. Nobody makes such a drama out of it. It’s particularly stupid to claim the entire Serie A round should’ve been postponed when Juventus-Inter was always meant to be over 24 hours after Lazio beat Bologna to go top of the table. Football has changed, the fixtures are spread out and we are all used to it by now, including the teams. Get over it and for crying out loud stop saying ‘campionato falsato.’ If you can’t perform because your rival has already played, then you are weak mentally and should take the blame for that.
Speaking of being mentally weak, how hard is it to understand that all of these restrictions are to prevent the virus spreading? Juve-Inter could’ve been postponed to Monday because the Government decree restricting public events expired on Sunday night. It was renewed in the areas where there are significantly more cases and they are continuing to grow, Lombardy, Veneto and Emilia-Romagna. Piedmont restrictions are lifted because there were 11 cases last week and they have not increased, so the spread is under control. It does not mean Coronavirus has been ‘cured,’ it’s just a different step in the process. It is not ‘territorial discrimination’ to ban fans travelling from the worst-affected areas, it is common sense.
So what happens now? If everyone refuses to play behind closed doors, do we just scrap the entire season? Only allow in people wearing hazmat suits? Can you imagine if Lazio are top of the table for the first time in 20 years and the whole campaign is just wiped out? Claudio Lotito would sue the Lega Serie A through every conceivable jurisdiction and he’d be right to do so.
What we need is for everyone to act like adults for once rather than jealous siblings who sit there whining that ‘he did it first’ or ‘but she’s got that toy, so now I have to get one too!’ Show some responsibility for something far bigger than football and do what needs doing.