Algorithm would decide Serie A positions in case of new COVID-19 suspension

Reuters

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's football federation (FIGC) decided on Monday to use an algorithm to calculate final rankings in the top-flight Serie A soccer championship if a new surge in COVID-19 cases made it impossible to complete the season.

Serie A, which was suspended on March 9 as part of a government lockdown to curb the novel coronavirus outbreak, is due to resume on June 20 and finish on Aug. 2.

Italy has gradually eased restrictions since early May, with new cases and deaths falling across the country. However, there is still a fear infections may pick up, stopping football again.

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In the case of a new suspension, the FIGC would aim to set final league positions through a playoff system, without rescheduling the 12 rounds of matches remaining, although the exact details have not yet been decided.

If this proved impossible because the government banned all matches, the FIGC general council agreed to use a highly contentious algorithm based on teams' home and away results.

This would determine which teams qualify for Europe and which are relegated but it would not be used to decide who wins Serie A. Instead the title would not be awarded this year.

Juventus, chasing a ninth successive title, lead the standings with 63 points from 26 games followed by Lazio (62), Inter Milan (54) and Atalanta (48). The three teams in the relegation zone are Lecce, SPAL and Brescia.

The meeting did not address another question troubling clubs regarding what happens if any players test positive.

As things stand, new cases within clubs will cause the whole squad to be quarantined for 14 days, severely disrupting the championship and raising the prospect it may not be completed.

"If the trend of infections allows it, I hope the government's experts can review the rules," FIGC president Gabriele Gravina told newspaper La Verita on Monday.

After the meeting, Gravina said clubs that do not comply with the government's strict regulations to keep the virus in check will face sanctions and could be excluded from the league.


(Reporting by Elvira Pollina; Writing by Angelo Amante; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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