Lazio coach Sarri on possible Serie A COVID-19 restrictions: Lockdown cannot just be for football

By Sports Desk January 08, 2022

Lazio head coach Maurizio Sarri is keen to avoid a return to Serie A matches being played behind closed doors, insisting it cannot only be football that is locked down amid rising COVID-19 cases in Italy.

Like much of Europe, Italy is now in the midst of another wave of coronavirus infections.

Games in some regions of Germany have been played behind closed doors since late last year, while Scotland has also introduced similar measures to limit social interaction.

So far, matches in Europe's other major leagues apart from the Bundesliga have been able to be played in front of crowds.

Italy's spike in confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached unprecedented levels in the country, with 219,430 new cases confirmed on Friday, surpassing records set on both Wednesday and Thursday, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Italian prime minister Mario Draghi has reportedly expressed his concerns to Italian Football Federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina, with the government worried about a lack of adhering to safety and social distancing measures within stadiums.

According to widespread reports in Italy, Serie A chiefs will be meeting this weekend to discuss their options, with Corriere dello Sport reporting that the issue will then be discussed in Wednesday's meeting between the FIGC and the government.

Sarri, however, believes it would be unfair to play matches behind closed doors once again, suggesting that if the situation in the country is so serious, then the entire nation must be once again placed into lockdown, not just football.

"COVID affects everyone's life, not just sport. If this pandemic is dangerous there should be a total lockdown, otherwise it will be downgraded to a flu and people will stay at home with a fever," he told a news conference ahead of Sunday's meeting with Inter, who had their game against Bologna postponed at the last minute on Thursday due to a decision by local health authorities.

"I just hope that we don't end up with a closed stadium – it makes people who are as passionate as I am lose the desire to go on the pitch."

Sarri's side are eighth in Serie A following Thursday's 3-3 draw with his former club Empoli. 

Lazio's meeting with Inter represents the second time they have gone up against their ex-coach Simone Inzaghi this season, with Sarri's team having come out on top 3-1 in October.

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