Juventus – Napoli: The FIGC National Court of Appeal rejects SSC Napoli’s complaint against the penalty imposed by the Sports Judge
A few days ago, on 10 November, the National Sports Court published the sentence (click here to read the provision) on the complaint presented by SSC Napoli against the penalties imposed by the Sports Judge of the Serie A League, Gerardo Mastandrea, with provision of 14.10.2020 (click here to read it), confirming the the latter’s decision to impose a 0-3 defeat in favor of Juventus FC of the Juventus – Napoli match not played on 4 October, as well as the penalty of 1 point in the standings for the 2020/2021 Sports Season against Napoli.
As is known, the aforementioned penalties were imposed following the non-presentation of the Napoli club at the “Juventus Stadium” on 4 October, to play the match scheduled at 8.45 pm.
Two days before the match, Napoli had announced the impossibility of going to Turin, asking for the match to be postponed, as following the positivity of two players from the first team (Zielinski and Elmas) at “Covid 19” and consequent complaint via e-mail to ASL Napoli 1, the ASL of Napoli 2 Nord, involved in the affair, had arranged with notes of 3 and 4 October the fiduciary isolation for 14 days for the close contacts of the two players and the non-existence of the conditions to undertake the journey to Turin.
This provision was also confirmed by the Head of Cabinet of the Presidency of the Campania Region.
The decision of the Sports Judge
The Sports Judge Gerardo Mastandrea, called to rule on the possible existence of “force majeure” as an impediment to the regular presence at the playing field and the dispute of the match by SSC Napoli, considered it non-existent, applying the sanctions prescribed by art. 53 of the FIGC NOIF (defeat 0-3 at table and penalty of 1 point in the standings).
In particular, the Sports Judge, at first clarified that the impossibility of the performance (the dispute of the match) due to “force majeure” (the provisions of the national/regional/territorial health authorities) would be configured only if the provisions of the authorities had imposed behavioral prescriptions independent of the will of the companies.
Subsequently, he specified that the decision not to play the match (requesting the postponement of the match and canceling the flight) was taken by SSC Napoli following the receipt of the first note by the ASL of Naples 1, sent with PEC n. 0220234 of 2 October, which had clarified its incompetence to implement the protocol provided by the FIGC for the containment of the “Covid 19” epidemic and the consequent responsibility of the company on the issue.
According to the Judge, therefore, the notes of 3 and 4 October with which the ASL of Naples 2 Nord had arranged the fiduciary isolation of the close contacts of the positive players, making the performance of SSC Napoli (the departure to Turin and the dispute of the match) objectively impossible, they would have had no relevance for the purposes of “force majeure”, since they arrived after Napoli’s decision not to play the match.
The decision of the Federal National Court of Appeal
On the subsequent complaint presented by SSC Napoli against the provision of the Sports Judge, the National Court of Appeal of the FIGC ruled which, on 10 November, fully confirmed the decision of Judge Gerardo Mastandrea, accepting the reasons in support of the same.
In particular, the Court challenged Napoli’s violation of the principle of “loyalty, probity and healthy competition” prescribed by CONI, clarifying that the conduct adopted by the company in the days prior to the meeting with Juventus (the continuous requests for clarifications to the ASL on the consequences deriving from the fiduciary isolation of the first team, despite the knowledge of the contents of the federal protocols on the subject; the cancellation of the charter flight the day before the match; the cancellation of the reservation of the pads that should have been carried out, according to the provisions of the Protocol, on the day of the match), was aimed at pre-establishing an “alibi” for not playing it.
Furthermore, the Court judged this conduct disrespectful towards the other Serie A football clubs, which in situations completely similar to that in which Napoli had come to meet in the days before the match – and, in some cases, even more critical – they had regularly played scheduled matches.
The press release of SSC Napoli
A few hours after the publication of the sentence of the Federal Court of Appeal, SSC Napoli communicated through its website that it had taken note of the aforementioned decision, but not to share it, as it would delegitimize “the work of the regional health authorities” and it would cast “unacceptable shadows on the Company’s conduct, neglecting very clear documents” in favor of the latter.
The company also announced that it will appeal to the CONI Sports Guarantee Board and that “it will undertake all initiatives to do justice to its conduct, oriented towards respect for public health and to ensure that the field is the only one judge to decide the result of a football match”.