Chief medic Gianni Nanni assures the COVID-19 protocol can be ‘updated’ during the pandemic, but there’s no reason to cancel games. ‘We need everyone to stick to the protocol rigorously.’
The number of cases among the Calcio community is climbing fast and the reliability of the existing protocol has been called into question, especially after Napoli were banned from travelling to the Juventus match last week after posting two positive tests.
“Football teams are no different to the rest of the country,” Bologna medic and Serie A representative in the CTS (technical scientific committee) Nanni told the Quotidiano Sportivo newspaper.
“If the protocol is respected rigorously by all concerned, then there is no reason to fear the tournament could be suspended again. Unfortunately, an increase in infections was to be expected after the excessive step towards free movement we saw over the summer. If you drop your focus, the virus will be revitalised.
“I do not agree that the existing protocol has to be made harsher. It can certainly be updated to reflect the situation, but there’s no need for radical changes. The first thing we should be focusing on is making sure the existing protocol is followed rigorously. The so-called ‘bubble’ is safe, but only if everyone follows the rules to the letter.”
There was a huge outbreak at Genoa, with 17 players and five members of staff testing positive, which then seemingly spread to Napoli with Piotr Zielinski and Eljif Elmas infected after playing against Genoa.
However, Nanni insists the idea that players are likely to infect each other during a match is ‘not very plausible. The problem isn’t during a game, it’s what happens before and after. Genoa, for example, faced Napoli with at least 10 infected players in the side, yet only two of the Napoli squad later tested positive.
“Considering the Campania region is one of those with the biggest spikes in cases, how can we know the Napoli players weren’t infected when at a restaurant rather than on the pitch?”
Nonetheless, the ASL (local health authority) in Naples barred the team from travelling to Turin for the Juventus match, leading to a potential 3-0 forfeit and a docked point.
If the cases continue to grow, could Serie A be suspended for the second time after March?
“No, I am confident we can keep going. I’d only start to worry if I realised not everyone within a club was rigorously respecting the protocol, but I am sure it is in everyone’s interest for us to see this season through.”