Health

Italian soccer aiming to resume in a month

Sports Desk, May 13 (efe-epa).- Italy’s first division soccer clubs agreed Wednesday on a plan to renew the coronavirus-interrupted season on June 13, provided that the government gives its approval.

“As far as the resumption of sports activities is concerned, the date of 13 June for the resumption of the championship has been indicated … in accordance with medical protocols for the protection of players and all those involved,” Serie A said in a statement.

The league suspended play on March 9 with 12 matches left in the 2019-2020 season.

Perennial champions Juventus lead Serie A by one point over Lazio after 26 games. Inter Milan are third, nine points behind the Turin side.

The Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) recently extended the deadline for completing the current campaign to Aug. 2.

In a speech to the Senate hours after Serie A floated the idea of a June 13 return, Italy’s minister of sport said the government was not ready to make a decision on allowing matches.

“The government has always kept a precise and coherent line, putting the health of its people first,” Vincenzo Spadafora said. “We’re hopeful of the season resuming, but only in complete safety after the appropriate measures have been taken and in keeping with the protocol, for everyone.”

“It wasn’t at all possible to resume any sooner due to instrumental pressures. We know the need to finish the season arises not only from sporting reasons but also for legitimate economic reasons,” the minister said.

Italian authorities gave athletes permission to resume training on an individual basis starting May 4 and Spadafora said Wednesday that teams will be allowed to begin group workouts at their respective practice facilities next Monday.

The green light for Serie A clubs to re-open training grounds came after the FIGC amended its health and safety protocols in line with the recommendations of the Scientific Technical Committee that is advising the government on the Covid-19 crisis.

Another of Europe’s leagues, Ligue 1, canceled the remainder of the 2019-2020 season after the government extended a prohibition on public events until mid-summer.

Spain’s LaLiga and the English Premier League, meanwhile, remain hopeful of being able to complete their respective seasons.

But in Germany, where deaths from coronavirus are a fraction of the fatalities in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain or France, professional soccer is set to return this weekend.

Just 6 points separate the top four teams in the Bundesliga with nine matches left to play.

The CEO of current leaders Bayern Munich, Karlheinz Rummenigge, said Wednesday that he expects a huge television audience for this weekend’s contest.

“And if the Bundesliga is the only league broadcast on TV around the world, than I think we will have a global audience of billions,” the former Bayern star told German weekly Sport Bild.

Premier League executives had been eyeing a possible resumption June 12, but concerns raised by managers and team captains Wednesday in conference calls point to June 19 as a more likely date, The Guardian reported.

While managers said players would need more time to get fit after the long layoff, several of the captains warned that not all of their teammates are convinced that conditions exist for a safe return to competition. EFE

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