Napoli win appeal against forfeit over unplayed Juve match
Napoli’s Belgian forward Dries Mertens celebrates after Genoa scored an own goal during the Italian Serie A football match Genoa vs Napoli at the Luigi-Ferraris stadium on November 10, 2018 in Genoa. (AFP)

Napoli have won their appeal against the decision to hand them a 3-0 defeat and one-point deduction for failing to play their Serie A match at Juventus in October amid confusion over Italian soccer’s COVID-19 rules.

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) confirmed on its official website that its Guarantee Board, the highest tribunal in Italian sport, had accepted Napoli’s appeal and ordered that the match be played.

Tuesday’s decision left Napoli and Juve level on 24 points from 12 games, the same total as AS Roma who, like leaders AC Milan (31) and Inter Milan (30), have played 13.

Previously, Juventus – who are chasing a 10th successive title — had been third with 27 points.

“We are happy,” said Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis. “We live in a country where those who respect the laws cannot be convicted. And Napoli always follow the rules.”

Juventus director of football Fabio Paratici shrugged off the verdict.

“The first comment to make is that we have always been indifferent to the matter,” he said. “When they tell us to play we will go and play — having said that we were also there on 4 October.”

Napoli did not travel to Turin for the Juve game on Oct 4., saying their local health authority (ASL) had told the players to stay at home after two members of the squad tested positive for COVID-19.

Serie A turned down Napoli’s request to call the game off, resulting in bizarre scenes at the Allianz stadium.

With the game still officially on, the stadium was opened and the floodlights switched on.

Juventus, who named their team, and the match officials were present and had to wait until 45 minutes after the scheduled kickoff time before the game was officially abandoned.

Serie A’s disciplinary tribunal, in handing Napoli a 3-0 defeat and deducting a point, rejected the club’s claim of force majeure and said there was a clear health protocol for professional football.

Napoli subsequently lost a first appeal at the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).

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