Europe LaLiga leagues Serie A

While Serie A edges towards resumption, La Liga may not return before summer

Serie A sides can resume training on 18 May, says Italian PM
Spanish sports minister dampens La Liga hopes of fast return

MIAMI, Fla. — (12 May 2020) The Italian top flight edged closer to resuming behind closed doors on Monday, as the FIGC met with the CTS and in a joint communiqué declared that Italian clubs may resume group training from May 18. This comes after a previous announcement from the country’s prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, that gave the go-ahead for professional sports teams to resume individual training back on May 4.

As part of measures to ease the national lockdown during a televised address, Conte said individual training could start on 4 May, with players still respecting social distancing rules, and that team training could begin on 18 May.

Conte said the sports minister, Vincenzo Spadafora, would work “intensively” with scientists and league officials to ensure training was safe. Conte added that the next step would be to resume sporting events behind closed doors, but did not give a potential date.

“We will try to see if they can continue with the championships that are suspended,” Conte said. “We will only reach this conclusion if it can be guaranteed that it is safe. We don’t want our athletes to get sick.”

“I’m passionate for football,” Conte added. “Like many Italians, I initially found it strange that the championship could be interrupted or suspended, but I think even the most ardent fan understands there wasn’t an alternative.”

The Italian Football Federation (Federazione Italiana di Gioco di Calcio (“FIGC”) has already drawn up a medical protocol for training. Each club will form a core group of players and staff who will be tested and then isolated in a training camp. There are also plans to donate five Covid-19 test kits for each one used by clubs.

Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and Serie A has been suspended since 9 March. Eight-time defending champions Juventus are one point clear of Lazio at the top; every team has at least 12 games left to play.

In Spain, clubs have begun testing and a gradual return to training, but the resumption of La Liga and La Liga 2 will not likely happen before June.

La Liga president, Javier Tebas, has been adamant about the need to complete the current campaign to avoid significant financial losses. The league has proposed a strict four-phase protocol to resume training, with Tebas previously putting forward three potential restart dates: 29 May, 7 June and 28 June.

Eibar and Real Sociedad play behind closed doors on 10 March, in the last La Liga game before suspension.
Eibar and Real Sociedad play behind closed doors on 10 March, in the last La Liga game before suspension. Photograph: Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Football has been suspended in Spain since 10 March, with the national sports ministry setting out a plan for a return to action in closed stadiums.

“I cannot say now if professional football will be able to restart before the summer, it would be imprudent of me,” Spain’s health minister Salvador Illa said. He said that La Liga’s plans to provide daily Covid-19 tests for players would require government approval.

“There is an order from the health ministry which is in place for all types of groups, including professional football,” he said. “They have to put whatever type of diagnostic tests they have at the disposition of the regional governments.”

The Spanish footballers’ association (AFE) has written to the government to express players’ concern over tests and a resumption of training. The AFE added that players believe “there are other groups that need the tests more at this time”, and that they want the government and not the league to make key decisions.

Rafa Ramos, president of the association of Spanish football club doctors, has said that footballs and playing surfaces will have to be sterilised if matches are to resume.

“All the material, even the pitches, will have to be sterilised before a match, at half-time and afterwards,” Ramos told El Pais. “It’s possible to be infected by the ball, but when you are struck by a sterilised ball it’s very hard to get infected.”

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By Ken Russo

While my background is in the legal industry, the skills acquired and fine-tuned in law practice are now applied to focus on the sport of football. Russo Soccer aims to inform, educate and engage on news and relevant issues in the game.

Um advogado por formação, concentro meu trabalho nos negócios, comunicações e operações de equipes no futebol mundial. | Abogado con fundación avanzada en comunicaciones, enfocado en los negocios del fútbol y las comunicaciones. | Je suis un avocat experimenté dans les affaires de football.