COVID chaos forces Serie A match between Udinese, Salernitana to be abandoned

A fixture between Udinese and Salernitana descended into chaos on Tuesday after local health authority (ASL) banned the recently-promoted side from travelling due to COVID-19 cases in their squad while Serie A refused to postpone the game.

Udinese players showed up in their Stadio Friuli stadium knowing that the ASL had banned the visitors from travelling north due to two positive cases in the squad.

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But the game was not postponed by the league's governing body because according to them the Salerno club still had enough available players in their squad for the fixture to go ahead.

Udinese named a starting line-up but remained in the dressing room, and after the regulation 45 minutes had passed from the scheduled kickoff time, the game was abandoned.

"The league is right not to postpone the game. They have a duty to protect the regularity of the league season and a game must not be postponed because a player tests positive," Udinese director Pierpaolo Marino told DAZN.

"We went to Rome to play Lazio with seven players and our coach out with COVID last season. And we won 3-1."

But Salernitana sporting director Angelo Fabiani said they were following orders.

"It isn't up to us, we paid for a plane journey and then spent more on a charter flight. But if the authorities ban you from going, what can we do?" he said.

It is not the first time such a situation has unfolded.

Napoli were handed a 3-0 defeat and deducted a point after failing to show for their game against Juventus last season, after being told to stay put by the ASL following positive cases.

But they later successfully appealed the decision to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Guarantee Board and the match was played at a different date.

"The protocol has always worked, but when the local health authorities intervene, we can do little," Italian Football Federation President Gabriele Gravina said in a press conference on Tuesday.