2020-21 Italian Serie A
  • Ciro Immobile (74' PEN)
  • Tolgay Arslan (18')
  • Ignacio Pussetto (45'+3')
  • Fernando Forestieri (71')

Udinese blame COVID-19 outbreak on international break

Serie A club Udinese have blamed a sudden outbreak of COVID-19 infections at the club on this month's international break, saying it began with a player returning from a national team match.

Udinese were without Stefano Okaka, Ilija Nestorovski, Sebastien De Maio, Thomas Ouwejan, Rolando Mandragora and Kevin Lasagna, as well as coach Luca Gotti when they faced Lazio on Sunday - though they still pulled off a shock 3-1 away win.

"In the midst of this epidemic Udinese was a happy island because thanks to the organisation of the club we had established protocols that had helped us to avoid contagion," sporting director Pierpaolo Marino told broadcast DAZN.

"Then a player who came back from the national team matches tested positive and new infections arose from there. Obviously it is not his fault, but the FIFA system is not working at the moment and we are the ones paying the consequences."

Marino did not name the player and, although he referred to the "FIFA system", the only matches played under the aegis of the global soccer body in the last two months have been South American World Cup qualifiers.

Other internationals, such as the Euro 2020 playoffs and Nations League, were organised by European body UEFA.

Several Udinese players were involved in national team matches last month including Nestorovski (North Macedonia), Lasagna and Okaka (Italy), Rodrigo De Paul (Argentina) and Jens Stryger Larsen (Denmark).

FIFA and UEFA officials could not immediately by reached for comment.