The Italian government agreed on Wednesday on a new Covid-19 protocol for professional sport which means teams cannot play if over 35 percent of their squad has the virus. The protocol, seen by AFP, was agreed between the government and regional authorities after a wave of infections across Serie A and fragmented decision-making caused chaos to fixture and infuriated clubs. It will now go to the government’s scientific committee (CTS) for final approval on Friday. Previously it had been down to local health authorities, or ASLs, which answer to regional governments, to decide autonomously whether the teams in their areas could play or not. Serie A however insisted that teams play if they had 13 of-age players (including one goalkeeper) regardless of what the ASLs decided and refused to postpone games even if teams were blocked from playing. That meant that opposition teams would show up to matches they knew would not take place and wait around until half-time before the game was called off. Before this season those matches would be awarded as 3-0 wins to the teams that showed up, only for legal challenges by the teams handed the defeats (and a one-point deduction) to reverse the ruling and force games to be rescheduled. Four matches in the first round of fixtures after the winter break were not played after teams were put in quarantine and blocked from playing by ASLs. However, on Saturday Serie A won a legal battle against the decisions of the ASLs, which meant teams had to play this weekend’s matches — the second round of 2022 — even with severely depleted squads. The new protocol has been designed to end that conflict and confusion as Covid cases surge across the country.