Sunday April 5 2020
Ranieri: 'Everyone or no-one plays'

Sampdoria boss Claudio Ranieri has rejected the idea of Serie A being played at neutral venues. “Either everyone resumes or no-one does.”

Several members of Samp’s first team were diagnosed with COVID-19 last month, but fortunately they have since tested negative for the virus.

“The mood was one of concern, but it was necessary,” Ranieri told La Repubblica.

“We’ve been faced with an invisible disease, which we don’t know how to fight. I wonder if we were really the most affected, but a bit of anxiety was inevitable.

“I calmed myself down by hearing the calm voices of my players and their stories. They all had minor fevers and no damage to their respiratory tracts.

“People need to stay calm. The government may say we can resume playing or not, but it’s up to the doctors to decide.

“It’s been said that this virus can cause heart complications: therefore, before we go back to training, it’s the duty of doctors to restore full fitness to each player.

“These won’t be just general visits, but rather thorough heart checks. Health is no laughing matter.”

The 67-year-old then warned players were not ‘machines that can just turn on and off’, while making it clear he disagreed with northern sides contesting their home matches elsewhere.

“I grew up with a ball at my feet, I’ve been in this sport for 50 years. I would never say ‘no’ to a match. But in an emergency like this, you have to be serious.

“I won’t get into any controversies. I’ll only say what we should expect once we start playing again: those who have been affected by the virus will feel weak during their first few training sessions.

“Like my President Ferrero said, a player isn’t a machine that can just turn off and on. It’ll take weeks of preparation before they can play again.

“Italy’s been submerged as if we were at war. The big city hospitals are on their knees. When will public places and hotels be safe again?

“There’s been talk of games at neutral venues, excluding some regions. I disagree: either everyone resumes playing or no-one does.

“Playing behind closed doors isn’t football, it’s death. But if it's the only way we play again, we’ll accept it.”

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