Serie A

Coronavirus: Italian health chief warns Serie A should be cancelled

Giovanni Rezza, the chief of the Italian Ministry of Health's department of infectious diseases, said in his opinion the 2019-20 season should be called off.

Coronavirus: Italian health chief warns Serie A should be cancelled
VINCENZO PINTO AFP

Serie A sides are preparing for a return to training some time in May, albeit only with the blessing of Italy's authorities when they are satisfied that restarting the league will not pose any health risks during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

However, there remains the possibility that Serie A, and all of Europe's major leagues, will face the prospect of the 2019-20 campaign being played out on paper instead of the pitch if the crisis fails to ease or if it is deemed too risky to resume the season under the World Health Organization's warnings of a second Covid-19 wave if lockdown restrictions are lifted prematurely

On Monday, Giovanni Rezza, the chief of the Italian Ministry of Health's department of infectious diseases, gave his opinion on the matter and suggested that it could be too risky to resume the season as planned. 

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Lazio: "Let scientists be scientists, not football fans"

"I'm a Roma fan so I would say it is better to end the season now," Rezza said with a smile during the daily national briefing on the Covid-19 pandemic. "The politicians will have the final word, but football is a contact sport and it could be dangerous. We're already looking at May. I have heard hypotheses about placing stricter controls on the players, but I think that is forcing the issue. If I had to give my opinion, I would advise against it." 

Several sides - albeit mostly those at the wrong end of the Serie A table - have indicated they would agree to forfeit the season but Rezza's suggestion drew a sharp response from Lazio, who are chasing a first Scudetto since 1999-00 and sit a point behind leaders Juventus. 

"Being a fan of a football team is sometimes detrimental to scientists," Lazio press officer Arturo Diaconale told news agency Adnkronos. "The experts would be considerably more useful seeking a solution or finding a vaccine to stop the virus. Let scientists be scientists, not football fans." 

Torino president Urbano Cairo took a different stance: "Professor Rezza is correct. It's impossible to return to competition at the end of May. He is a man of science and he is saying what I have been saying for weeks."