Former Serie A referee Luca Marelli discussed the Coronavirus emergency, its effect on Serie A football and the upcoming European Championship in an interview with Italian media outlet PassioneInter.com today.
First, Marelli discussed what would happen if the league was called off due to the virus.
“From a regulatory point of view there is absolutely nothing, in the sense that it is unpredictable the idea that the league could be suspended for any reason. There are no ideas for the league and how the title could assigned, on the basis of the first day or the last game day.
“They are all urban legends that have circulated these days that have no basis whatsoever. In principle the league and the Coppa Italia would not be assigned, or we’ll see. I think this day will be played because in a couple of hours we’ll be playing already.
“I have very serious doubts that the next one will be played. We’ll see, we’ll all see what happens. It’s a situation that I’ve never experienced, nobody knows what will happen.””
The former Serie A referee also spoke about what would happen in regard to European qualification spots should the league be called off early.
“There’s going to be a lot of trouble. If the leagues are cancelled, which is likely to be the case if the European Championship is not postponed, the last day will probably be the case for the cups, precisely because it is an emergency situation and you have to realise that the European cups will be played anyway.
“Unless they decide to come up with some sort of emergency regulations and create playoffs to decide which teams will be qualified. We cannot create theories, we reason on unpredictable assumptions. It could be that the league ends in July with the European Championship being played next year.”
He didn’t think that this summer’s European Championship would still be played.
“I seriously doubt we’ll see the European Championship this summer.”
Marelli discussed how the other leagues around Europe are still going ahead, despite the fears that the virus is still spreading.
“It all depends on what I said before. We don’t know what will happen in Italy and neither does Europe. At the moment I see crazy ideas, in Italy the first match was rightly postponed with 20 cases of Coronavirus all over the country.
“Yesterday I saw Borussia Mönchengladbach against Borussia Dortmund in front of thousands and thousands of people and in Germany there are already 800 cases. I do not want to think that we are the stupidest, the feeling is that in the rest of Europe they are a little bit underestimating the problem.
“The European cups will also suffer the consequences, because we do not know where we are going to end up. If there are between 800 yesterday and 3000 in Germany, what are we going to do? I honestly do not rule out the possibility that European competitions will not be awarded either.”
The former Serie A referee discussed the idea that Italian referees are not being designated UEFA matches.
“I apologised publicly for this because I reported an incomplete report. They explained the situation to me from UEFA circles and it all has a logic. If I had known beforehand, I would not have written anything. To be wrong is human.
“Basically, they said this, UEFA are watching us, they know that there are restrictive measures and they have created a reasoning. If you designate Italian referees and then they were in a pink zone and couldn’t get out of their borders, as it happened, the matches would not be played, because it is impossible to call a referee from another Federation the day before. They took a precaution and left ours on stand-by, it’s a logical decision. I hadn’t thought about it and I apologise for reporting a partial news report.”
Marelli spoke about the Serie A games being played today and all the controversies leading up to this weekend’s matches.
“I can’t blame anyone, not the League, not Zhang for his reaction. I can’t be extremely critical right now, it’s all an emergency. It’s also an emergency for those who have to manage a complex competition like Serie A and the football leagues in general. I’m afraid it will be the last game we see for a while at least. I hope I’m wrong and that tomorrow the infections will decrease to a minimum, but I doubt it. You always have to be hopeful.”
Finally, Marelli spoke about this evening’s Derby d’Italia clash between Juventus and Inter, and what kind of game it will be.
“It will be very particular, at the stadium that has never played any games behind closed doors, at San Siro Inter played behind closed doors against Ludogorets but it has been 13 years since Raciti’s murder. I don’t expect the competitiveness I would have seen under normal conditions, I honestly think so. The tension will be positive because despite the future it is still an important game. I expect a game with much less protests. The players know that whatever is said on the pitch will be picked up by microphones and so they’ll be very careful with their words, they’ll be very careful with blasphemous language. They know that the referee can close one ear or maybe two in the noise, he won’t be able to do so tonight. Everyone will hear everything.”