Much of Internazionale’s pre-match ritual was the same before their game against Bologna on Thursday, but there was just one very important thing missing – their opponents, as the Serie A fixture descended into farce.
Rising Covid-19 cases in the Bologna squad meant the local health authority (ASL) placed the team into quarantine for seven to 10 days from Wednesday, meaning they could not take part in their scheduled home clash, which was meant to kick off at 11.30am GMT on Thursday. Yet with Serie A refusing to cancel matches, Inter were forced to turn up and train before the game, as normal, with officials even tasked with inspecting the pitch, despite there being no sign of any Bologna players.
The Inter director Beppe Marotta was in attendance in Bologna, and said the system is not working. “The situation is chaotic,” he told Sky Sport Italia. “Games have been postponed by local health authorities who decided independently.
“Bologna were ready to play and they suffered the situation from ASL which have taken this decision to protect everyone’s health, but clarity is missing. I would limit the ASL’s power otherwise, we’ll always face similar situations in the future. It is something that the Minister of Health must cope with along with our institutions. I hope the vaccine will become mandatory to lower the risks and similar situations in the future.”
The Serie A protocol in place awards a 3-0 victory to the team who shows up for the match – in this case Inter – and the club who does not attend is deducted one point. However, amid similar scenes during last season’s fixture between Juventus and Napoli, Juve were initially awarded a 3-0 win, but Napoli successfully appealed against the decision to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Guarantee Board and the match was played on a different date.
More of the same is expected to unfold later on Thursday. Bottom side Salernitana, who have nine players that tested positive, are due face Venezia, but their local health authority forced the squad into a five-day quarantine. Udinese and Torino have also been placed in isolation and blocked from travelling to Fiorentina and Atalanta, respectively.