Lazio turned up for a Serie A clash with Torino on Tuesday, but their opponents stayed away in a move that looks set to trigger a fresh dispute over how Italian football is handling the coronavirus crisis.
The Stadio Olimpico fixture had an early evening kick-off, scheduled for 18:30 local time, and home side Lazio duly arrived, with coach Simone Inzaghi announcing a team for the game.
That was already in the knowledge, however, that Torino would not be present to provide the opposition, having stayed in Turin on the advice of their local health authority after a COVID-19 outbreak.
Torino’s home match against Sassuolo, due to take place last Friday, was postponed because of those cases becoming apparent.
However, Lega Serie A decided the Lazio game should go ahead, despite Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina declaring it was an “objective impossibility” to get the match on.
Gravina, quoted in La Gazzetta dello Sport, said he understood Torino’s situation to be “a full-blown force majeure” and not a spur-of-the-moment decision not to travel to Rome for the game. League chiefs, however, were not as obviously sympathetic.
A string of training sessions were postponed by Torino last week. At around the time Lazio published their team sheet for Tuesday’s game, Torino posted a training update, saying players had been working individually because of the restrictions imposed by local authorities.
The Corriere dello Sport newspaper said referee Marco Piccinini declared the game abandoned at 19:15 in Rome, adding that two Lazio players were called for routine doping tests despite the fixture not being played.
It remains to be seen what steps Lega Serie A takes next, but there has been a precedent of sorts this season, when Napoli were barred from travelling to Turin to face Juventus in October.
League chiefs had turned down a request to call off the game and awarded a 3-0 victory to Juventus, also docking Napoli one point. However, the Naples side appealed to the Italian Olympic Committee’s Collegio di Garanzia dello Sport – the highest sporting court in the land – and overturned the Lega Serie A decision. That game will be replayed, with March 17 reportedly a possible date.
— S.S.Lazio (@OfficialSSLazio) March 2, 2021
Lazio sporting director Igli Tare told Sky Sport Italia ahead of Tuesday’s intended kick-off time: “I could say many things, but I keep them to myself.
“We respected the rules and we came to the stadium. Now we will wait 45 minutes, then we will leave everything in the hands of the competent bodies.
“Would I have preferred to play? Absolutely yes.”
Tare said it was not important whether he understood Torino’s point of view.
“I just have to respect the rules of the Lega,” he said. “We know how things stand. We are here and this is the only thing that matters.”