NEWS
Sunday October 4 2020
Agnelli: 'COVID protocol is clear'

Juventus President Andrea Agnelli insists the Serie A protocol covers the Napoli scenario and was not followed. ‘The ASL wouldn’t intervene if the protocol was being followed.’

The patron spoke to Sky Sport Italia at the empty Allianz Juventus Stadium, where the Bianconeri turned up with a starting XI and Napoli remained at home.

“I am here because it is only right that we express our opinion,” said Agnelli.

“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.”

Napoli are not the first club to have two COVID cases in the squad, but other games were not postponed, for example, Milan and Torino.

“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.”

There are surreal scenes at the Allianz Juventus Stadium this evening, with the Bianconeri arriving, announcing a starting XI, all with their opponents Napoli self-isolating on the other side of the country.

It took just three rounds to reach a breaking point in the protocol, agreed between the Government and Lega Serie A to end the lockdown, but not necessarily taking into account the orders of individual Regions, which in Italy act in much the same way as States in the USA.

The Serie A and UEFA protocol states as long as a team still has 13 players available – including one goalkeeper – a match must go ahead.

There is a clause noting that this is save for rulings from the local authorities, but the debate is whether the ASL statement is or is not specifically an order not to travel or merely advice.

There are 20 people self-isolating between players (16) and staff at Napoli and they are currently at home. They will move to the Castel Volturno training ground tomorrow and are not therefore technically in a ‘bubble’ yet.

Did Agnelli have any contact with Napoli President 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.”

Should the protocol be changed following this controversy?

“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 asked if Juventus would’ve travelled to Naples if they had received that ASL message urging them to self-isolate?

“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.”

The implication here is that Napoli asked the ASL to over-ride the existing Serie A protocol for COVID-19 cases.