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Italian football hit again by coronavirus with Genoa-Torino postponed

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Milan (AFP)

Italy's football league has again been hit by coronavirus with Saturday's Serie A game between Genoa and Torino postponed after 15 positive tests at the Ligurian club.

The third-round match is the first in Serie A to be postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic since the championship started on September 19.

A meeting of the Extraordinary Council of the Lega Serie A confirmed the application of UEFA rules whereby a match can only take place as long as a side have 13 healthy players, including a goalkeeper.

Genoa published a list of 11 players and four staff members who had contracted the virus.

Goalkeeper Mattia Perin and midfielder Lasse Schoene both missed Genoa's 6-0 Serie A defeat at Napoli on Sunday, and 13 others returned positive tests since the game.

Genoa had demanded that the match be pushed back with health authorities cancelling the team's Thursday training session with players undergoing a new round of tests.

In the case of 10 positive players detected within a week, a club can request the postponement of a match. The request can only be granted once within a season.

Torino president Urbano Cairo hit out at Italian football chiefs' slowness in deciding on how to proceed.

"The important thing is that a rule had to be established, like UEFA did some time ago by establishing when to play and when not to play," Cairo told Sky Sports Italia.

"La Liga for example adopted that rule and did it long ago. We are very late and this is a shame.

"I think it should have been done earlier because it was easy to predict that situations of this type could occur in autumn.

"Now there is a need for certain rules for everyone and for every day.

"Torino also had a positive before the match against Atalanta and we started training on Thursday."

- 'Limit the spread' -

Italian football federation president (FIGC) Gabriele Gravina insisted they had "always acted to protect health and will continue to do so".

"Despite what has happened in recent days, the attention and responsibility put in place by the FIGC, the Leagues, the clubs and the referees have confirmed the seriousness of the world of football as a whole," Gravina said.

"There has been a fruitful collaboration with the institutions, to underline the great effort of all the protagonists of our world in limiting the spread of the virus.

"Although determined in carrying out sports competitions, our actions are always inspired by the protection of the health of members.

"The decision of the Serie A League on the course of action in the event of unavailability of players due to Covid should be read precisely in this sense."

There are also concerns about Napoli players, with eight of Genoa's 11 positive players taking to the field in Naples.

Napoli are due to play champions Juventus in Turin on Sunday.

A first round of swabs come back negative, with a second round of testing set for Thursday.

In Italy, the first European country affected by the coronavirus, Serie A was suspended from early March, returning in mid-June to conclude the championships.

The new season got underway with a maximum 1,000 spectators allowed into stadiums.

Other teams have had individual cases with AC Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic in quarantine after testing positive last week, leading to a debate over whether the championship should be suspended.

Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora insisted, however, "the conditions to stop the season have not been met".

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