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Salernitana’s ghost game could be a farcical end to their Serie A journey | Serie A

Tright here had been at the very least 16 Salernitana followers on the Dacia Area on Tuesday. It’s no small dedication to make a 1,000-mile roundtrip to assist a group that sits backside of the standings on a weeknight in December. The group got here figuring out they’d not have a group to assist in any respect.

Salernitana had been barred from travelling after two gamers examined constructive for Covid, along with a third member of employees. The choice was made by the native well being authority in Salerno, not the Italian Soccer Federation, that means that their fixture away to Udinese was not formally cancelled.

And so, we had a repeat of the surreal theatre that surrounded unplayed video games between Juventus and Napoli final October, in addition to Lazio and Torino this March. The house group confirmed up, submitted a beginning lineup and even posted it on social media. Then they waited round. Lastly, 45 minutes after the game was scheduled to kick-off, the referee Giacomo Campione blew his whistle 3 times to carry the charade to a shut.

Everybody was doing what they need to, following the foundations as written, however these scenes provoked a wearying sense of déjà vu. Each the Juventus-Napoli and Lazio-Torino video games had been finally performed at later dates, however solely after prolonged appeals processes and arguments over why some groups had been pressured to keep on with squads decimated by the virus whereas others acquired a reprieve.

The Lega Serie A justice division has thus far declined to make a ruling on whether or not this game ought to be awarded as a walkover win for Udinese or rescheduled for a later date. There’s little level in doing so till they know whether or not Salernitana will play any extra matches in any respect.

The membership has till 31 December to discover a new proprietor or be thrown out of the league. Their promotion to the top-flight final spring created a battle of curiosity, as they’re co-owned by Claudio Lotito, additionally the proprietor of Lazio.

That is a mess 10 years within the making. Lotito relaunched Salernitana along with one other businessman, Marco Mezzaroma, after the membership went bankrupt in 2011 and oversaw their rise from Serie D, with Lazio continuously sending them younger gamers on mortgage to acquire expertise.

The Italian Soccer Federation’s guidelines on the time prohibited people from proudly owning a couple of membership throughout the skilled divisions – from Lega Professional upwards. However when Salernitana had been promoted to that stage in 2012, Lotito was granted an exemption. Potential clashes with Lazio within the Coppa Italia had been clumsily prevented by drawing the groups on reverse sides of the bracket and trusting within the likelihood that they’d not each make the ultimate.

Even the federation’s personal president, Gabriele Gravina, has acknowledged that “everybody knew what would occur” when Salernitana lastly made it up to Serie A. There could be no extra bending of guidelines to enable one man to personal two groups in the identical division. Lotito was permitted to give up the membership to a blind belief on the situation that they be offered by the end of December.

The query of how issues had been allowed to go this far stays a vexing one. Guidelines have since been amended to stop a repeat. In Salernitana’s case, Gravina has been clear that there can be no additional extensions. If no purchaser is discovered, the group will be thrown out of Serie A.

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He remained defiantly optimistic on Tuesday, saying “I guess that a purchaser will be discovered within the subsequent 10 days” and declaring it as unthinkable that no one would be prepared to put money into such a “wholesome membership”. These followers who travelled to the Dacia Area that very same night would love to imagine him. They unfurled a banner outdoors with a plea to “Free Salernitana”.

The remainder of the league can solely watch and wait. There would be a knock-on affect for everybody if Salernitana are thrown out, with their outcomes thus far set to be scrubbed from the file, even when the affect on the standings would be modest. The membership has struggled badly on its return to the top-flight after 23 years away – accumulating eight factors from 19 video games regardless of signing Franck Ribéry this September.

It’s a scenario everybody would favor to keep away from. There’s nervousness sufficient over Salernitana’s Covid instances, and the potential implications of the Omicron variant. Up till this week, the hope in Italy had been that a excessive vaccination charge could maintain the league operating easily. La Repubblica reported in October that 98% of Serie A gamers had obtained two jabs – the largest uptake throughout Europe’s prime 5 leagues.

As of Tuesday, solely 19 had examined constructive all season. Half of groups had been but to expertise a single case. However rising an infection numbers throughout the nation had been sparking concern even earlier than Salernitana had been ordered to keep residence. Earlier this month the federal government tightened restrictions for followers attending video games, requiring them to meet the ‘Tremendous Inexperienced Cross’ standards of getting obtained two jabs or recovered from Covid within the previous six months.

Additional authorities measures could be launched earlier than Christmas, although Serie A is on break now till 6 January. Attendances at Serie A video games have been restricted to 75% of stadium capability since October, up from 50% at the beginning of the marketing campaign. In observe, many golf equipment usually are not hitting their higher limits.

These worries didn’t overshadow Serie A’s last video games of 2021 fully. Inter signed off on a sensible 12 months by beating Torino 1-0 at San Siro. They’d already tied up the title of ‘Winter Champion’ over the weekend and look ever extra seemingly to retain the precise Scudetto within the spring.

Inter’s players sign off for Christmas after a 1-0 defeat of Torino.
Inter’s gamers log out for Christmas after a 1-0 defeat of Torino. {Photograph}: Xinhua/Shutterstock

Simone Inzaghi was justified in his remark that: “It fits everybody now to say that Inter are a dreadnought, however that was not what folks had been saying in the summertime.” He has taken the group to new heights since succeeding Antonio Conte, even discovering methods in current methods to reintegrate and get essentially the most from gamers who had fallen to the fringes: Alexis Sánchez and Arturo Vidal.

Milan rebounded from their weekend defeat to Napoli with a formidable 4-2 win over Empoli, Franck Kessié thriving as a makeshift no 10. The Partenopei, against this, undid all their good work by shedding at residence to a Spezia aspect that sat seventeenth within the desk, simply the largest shock of the spherical.

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Serie A outcomes

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Sassuolo 0-3 Bologna, Venezia 1-3 Lazio, Inter 1-0 Torino, Roma 1-1 Sampdoria, Verona 1-1 Fiorentina, Empoli 2-4 Milan, Napoli 0-1 Spezia, Juventus 2-0 Cagliari, Genoa 0-0 Atalanta

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After which there have been Roma, who delivered their finest efficiency of José Mourinho’s tenure as they thumped Atalanta 4-1 on the weekend, however threw away a lead as they drew 1-1 on Wednesday with Sampdoria. “It was a horrible match,” mentioned Mourinho. “If I used to be at residence I might have modified the channel.”

A minimum of it was a match. These Salernitana followers who made the journey to Udine could solely head residence afterward to anxious Christmases, not figuring out if they’d have excuses to return to a Serie A stadium in 2022.

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