After weeks of speculation, Napoli were officially handed a 3-0 defeat for failing to show-up for their match against Juventus a week or so ago. Not only were they given a lopsided defeat, but they were also docked a point! Napoli didn’t show because they were following instructions of their ASL (Azienda Sanitaria Locale) who told them not to leave the Campania region after a few Napoli players tested positive. There was supposedly a misunderstanding about which rules were paramount between local health officials and the FIGC. Napoli will appeal the decision, but it seems unlikely they will win after being dealt a blow by the Judge’s ruling today.
We here at VN aren’t going to get into Juventus’ role in all of this and how it is unsurprising given their track record of shady behavior and questionable business dealings. While I think they definitely should’ve have stood in solidarity with the Napoli players, there were some penalties at stake for them if they didn’t show. However, if you are a player on Juventus, aren’t you thankful that Napoli didn’t come and potentially infect you? Then, perhaps you give it to your wife or children and the spread continues on and on. As a human, I think we can all see that what Napoli did was commendable and they should be rewarded for their humanity, not docked points and goal differential. We’ve seen Juventus players put club allegiance aside like when they came to Firenze for the funeral of the late Davide Astori. They could’ve done better, much, much better. Now, two of their first team players, Cristiano Ronaldo and Weston McKennie, have tested positive for COVID-19. We wish them nothing but a speedy recovery, but I wonder what will happen if they are unable to travel for matches. Will the FIGC drop the hammer on them like they did to Napoli? Probably not.
Like I said earlier, this isn’t about Juventus, it’s about the FIGC’s continued ineptitude. Whether it’s match-fixing, racism, regional discrimination, or COVID-19, they just can’t seem to do anything right. Earlier this year Atalanta and Valencia met in the UCL and the match is said to have been a massive spreader event for the virus (if you want to read more about that, check out THIS article from ESPN). You think the FIGC learned their lesson? Nope. Instead of protecting the players, coaches, and staff, they punish Napoli for simply following orders. Tell me this, why on Earth would Napoli not show up unless they were given direct orders not to? They aren’t scared of Juventus and have actually been one of the few teams to consistently get good results against them over the last few seasons. The logic makes zero sense. In year where European places are going to be tougher than ever to secure, why would they willingly give up three (and now four) points? It’s absolutely ludicrous.
Most people would agree that Serie A was the best league in the world from the 70s all the way until about a decade ago. The rise of TV revenue and foreign investment in the game are definitely major factors in the decline of Serie A, but no one is more to blame then the FIGC themselves. The league consistently makes terrible decisions and PR blunders that not only hurt the fans of the game, but also their bottom line. Every time they are given the opportunity to do the right thing, they fail. I’ve been a Serie A fan for decades and I’ve never been closer to giving up on the league and just follow others. Again, this isn’t a Juve or Napoli issue, this is much greater than either of them. This is about the organization as a whole making one set of rules for some and another set for the rest. You have to wonder if this was a northern team, would this result have happened? Regional discrimination in Italy is nothing new and it’s really hard to say that was the only reason, but there also isn’t any proof to say that didn’t play a factor.
All in all, this is just another screw-up in the long list of them by the FIGC. As a Fiorentina fan, I am disgusted. As a Serie A fan, I am disgusted. As a Calcio fan, I am disgusted. As someone with Neapolitan blood, I am disgusted. The FIGC needs to get their ducks in a row and fast. The “farmers leagues” of Germany and France are closing the gap and the EPL is light years ahead in terms of revenue. If they don’t watch out, Serie A will fall down the pecking order and they’ll have no one but themselves to blame.