Soccer-Lazio fined, president banned for COVID protocol violations

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ROME (Reuters) -Lazio president Claudio Lotito was banned for seven months and the Serie A club fined 150,000 euros ($176,925) by a national federal court on Friday, as punishment for COVID-19 protocol violations.

Team doctors Fabio Rodia and Ivo Pulcini were also suspended for 12 months following an investigation into breaches of league rules in October and November last year.

Media reports had previously suggested that the club risked a Serie A points deduction or even relegation, but the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) prosecutor didn't request any points penalty.

The prosecutor asked for a 200,000 euro fine, a ban of 13 months and 10 days for Lotito and 16-month bans for Rodia and Pulcini, but the sentence handed out was more lenient.

A FIGC investigation was opened on Nov. 3 over potential violations of protocols regarding COVID-19 testing. The club’s training ground was inspected and swab test results were seized.

On Feb. 16, the FIGC charged the club with “violations of federal regulations and a lack of observance of the health protocols in force” and referred Lazio, Lotito, Pulcini and Rodia to the national federal court.

Lazio denied wrongdoing and said in a statement: “We trust in sporting justice.”

The FIGC’s list of violations included failing to promptly report positive cases to the local health authority, failing to stop three players from attending a training session after receiving positive tests and twice failing to enforce a mandatory 10-day isolation period on an asymptomatic player, who was subsequently involved in a Serie A game.

($1 = 0.8488 euros)

($1 = 0.8478 euros)

(Reporting by Alasdair MackenzieEditing by Toby Davis)