Sunday, January 23, 2022

Salernitana risk Serie A removal over conflict of interest, unable to field team vs. Udinese over COVID issues

Udinese and Salernitana’s Serie A clash scheduled for Tuesday was unable to take place after the away side did not travel to Dacia Arena in Udine due to COVID concerns.

Rock-bottom Salernitana are five points adrift of safety and to make matters worse, are uncertain to even remain in the Italian top flight if they cannot find a buyer before the end of this year due to conflict of interest issues. Chairman of the Italian FA (FIGC) Gabriele Gravina confirmed the decision during a press conference on Tuesday: “If a buyer is not found within 10 days, Salernitana are out on Jan. 1.”

“I wish Salernitana to find a buyer in the next 10 days, I remain convinced that it is possible,” Gravina added. “My respect for the city of Salerno and the fans is total and I have shown it from the first moment, since I started tackling the problem in May … Something is wrong and it is up to the trustees to resolve. I can give the city great hope, but I haven’t made any promises. I am simply maintaining a coherent line, I am not sending the federation to slaughter.”

The problem Gravina is referring to stems from the club’s promotion from Serie B last season, which leaves Lazio owner Claudio Lotito with two clubs owned in Serie A — an obvious violation.  

It’s possible that Tuesday would have been the final game played before the Granata were either sold to another owner or kicked out of the top flight, but to make matters worse they were forbidden from travelling by local health authorities due to a COVID outbreak on the squad while Udinese arrived and prepared for the match as usual.

“The [COVID] protocol has always worked,” said Gravina of Salernitana’s no-show, “but when the local health authority intervenes, we can do little. … We are trying to start a dialogue with the health authorities, but it is a huge job. A collegial discussion table is desirable.” 

Similar happened between Juventus and Napoli last season which forced the visitors to forfeit before and eventual appeal was won to have the game replayed.

referee-giacomo-camplone-serie-a-udinese-calcio-us-salernitana.jpg

Referee Giacomo Camplone looks on prior to the abandoned Serie A match between Udinese Calcio and US Salernitana at Dacia Arena on Tuesday.  Getty Images

Neither club has commented publicly yet and it comes in a difficult week for Serie A with the news about Salernitana’s ownership issues and Fiorentina questioning the murky financial situation surrounding many of Italy’s top clubs as finances are investigated.

“ACF Fiorentina has on numerous occasions pointed out — both publicly and to the appropriate institutions — the delicate economic and financial situation Italian football currently finds itself in and the need for clear rules that are the same for everyone,” read a statement.

“We hope that the latest reports by the media and the relevant authorities can help to provide a clearer picture of how well clubs are operating financially, so that quick, effective action can be taken out of respect for those who follow the rules and above all the fans, who have the right to watch a fair competition in which there can be no doubts or misinterpretations.

“While ACF Fiorentina has the greatest respect for the work and the independence of all the bodies tasked with carrying out the necessary checks, we hope there can be more sharing in identifying clear, binding rules to which no exceptions are made during the season. After all, having consistent rules is one of the factors that determines and ensures fair competition.”

Viola close out 2021 away at Hellas Verona on Wednesday before a break until Jan. 6 for all clubs in Serie A.

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