As you may have heard, Genoa found 14 positive people positive for coronavirus in their last round of testing. That’s probably something to do with why they lost 6-0 to Napoli, but the lopsided result is the least of everyone’s worries right now. With so many folks coming up with COVID for the Grifoni, we could see another suspension for Serie A as a whole. While everyone’s first thought should be for those 11 players, 3 staff members, and their families, it’s also worth considering what this news could mean for the rest of the league, and Fiorentina in particular.
The teams that have played Genoa in the past month—Carpi, Carrarese, Parma, Crotone, and Napoli—should probably redouble testing for players and staff and maybe even enter self-isolation just to be safe. Most authorities have agreed on a two-week quarantine for those possibly exposed to the virus. That means that some or all of Genoa, Parma, Crotone, and Napoli could be unavailable to play for at least a fortnight. The league office would then either have to postpone nearly half the fixtures for a couple of game weeks or simply skip them and try to make them up later.
Perhaps the most shocking thing here is that the Rossoblu didn’t go against any of Serie A’s rules. We don’t know the timing of all the results, but at least one player came up positive just hours before kickoff, which delayed the game by several hours. That it was still allowed to go on despite the obvious risk to everyone in the stadium is dangerously negligent at best.
As pundits like Marco Bellinazzo have pointed out, the fact that a team could travel with even one infected player, much less nearly a dozen, provides ample evidence that the FIGC’s testing protocols are irreparably broken. While the original draft of these protocols mandated a 14-day quarantine period for any squad with a positive test, Serie A clubs and the players’ union rejected the terms out of hand, citing the loss in revenue that all parties would absorb in this circumstance.
The FIGC likely regrets buckling under the pressure now, as it’s left in the position of overseeing a league that won’t have any rules ordering it to cease play in the event of more positive tests at Napoli. The optics of this are undeniably bad, but not nearly as awful as the prospect of a breakout in the top flight caused by the league office’s inability to pass legislation to keep everyone safe. We could very well see Minister of Sport Vincenzo Spadafora or FIGC president Gabriele Gravina have to unilaterally shut things down, which will doubtless lead to more chaos in a league that’s got no shortage of it.
Fiorentina is one of the clubs less directly affected by this incident. They haven’t faced any of Genoa’s recent opponents and aren’t on the hook for any of them until next month’s tilt against Parma. The odds of any Viola players being infected through exposure on the pitch is minimal from what we can tell right now. And that’s a really good thing.
That said, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Fiorentina is at the forefront of clubs calling for a hiatus. With Dušan Vlahović, Germán Pezzella, Patrick Cutrone, Martín Cáceres, and Erick Pulgar all dealing with the virus, the Gigliati have been one of the hardest-hit outfits in the country and know exactly how serious the coronavirus is. Remember too that owner Rocco Commisso expressed some hesitance about resuming play back in the spring; that the league can’t even make it two weeks in the new season without this happening could rekindle those feelings.
To sum up, the FIGC has made a mess of things here and has nobody to blame but itself. Even if none of Genoa’s recent opponents come up positive (and let’s hope they don’t), there’s already a pretty good case for another mid-season layoff, even if it’s just for two weeks. The brief return of fans to the stadia is likely over as well for awhile. In short, the entire league is holding its breath and waiting to see what happens next.