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Updated: Sliema-Neptunes KO semi-final to be played as planned on Monday

ASA says there will be no change in fixtures’ list

The Aquatic Sports Association of Malta said that there will be no changes in the fixtures’ list despite the complaint made by Sliema ASC over the behaviour Neptunes WPSC over COVID-19 related events.

The ASA decision means that Monday’s Knock Out semi-final at the National Pool will be played as planned.

Earlier on Monday, Sliema contended on Monday that Neptunes did not put their players to a mandatory swab test as agreed by both clubs and are awaiting instructions from the ASA on how they should act ahead of Monday’s semi-final.

“Following the recent stoppage of the Waterpolo season due to Covid-19 related events that preceded Game 2 of the League semi-final between Neptunes and Sliema ASC, Sliema ASC took the initiative to organize swab tests for both its players and the players of Neptunes WPC prior to the next match between the two clubs,” the club said in a statement.

“This was done with the help of the health authorities and with the agreement and acceptance of Neptunes WPC.

“Regrettably however, Sliema ASC has just been unofficially informed that not all Neptunes WPC players took the test and there is a possibility that none of them did.

“With responsibility, Sliema ASC feels that this is grossly irresponsible, particularly in view of the recent events that have evolved in the waterpolo scenario but also in the context of the country’s fight against the virus.

“Although not mandatory that’s what a sense of duty calls for to protect everyone – particularly after health authorities made a massive effort to accommodate the group swabs as a sport initiative.”

In its statement, the ASA said that the request made by the governing body to all clubs on Sunday to subject their players to swab tests prior to their next match, it was made in compliance with the obligation to ensure the observance of Public Health directives, and this in view of the continued increase in COVID-19 cases.

“The ASA is aware that requests for swab tests are increasing and such demand is likely to continue increasing in the coming days/weeks,” the ASA said.

“The ASA has given due consideration to this reality and in the circumstances is of the firm opinion that postponing fixtures with an aim of allowing clubs time to have their athletes tested prior to their remaining matches is not an option, since delaying will most likely aggravate the situation.

“Accordingly the ASA has decided that fixtures are to remain as announced and once again encourages all clubs to act responsibly and refrain from fielding any players who are or may not be fit for playing due to possible contagion.”

In reaction, Neptunes president Matthew Bonello said that he was disappointing by the actions of Sliema ASC and made it clear that the players were not obliged by law to undergo swab tests.

“I am surprised by the actions of Sliema ASC,” Bonello told the Times of Malta.

“Our squad underwent swab tests once the period of quarantine expired on October 4 and all players resulted negative.

“It’s true that we were approached by Sliema ASC to put our players for another swab test, however, we felt that we should take a legal advice on the matter.

“Since then, the team was busy competing in the BOV Premier Division play-off final against San Ġiljan and to be fair between the end of our league commitments and Monday’s semi-final the players only had one day to do the test and that was yesterday (Sunday).

“We let the players free to decide whether they go for the test or not.

“Finally, my major concern is that with what right were Sliema ASC able to given sensitive information of which players from our club had went for the swab test or not.”

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