Italian soccer mulls playoff to decide title

Rome, May 20 (efe-epa).- The Italian soccer federation (FIGC) said Wednesday that a playoff mechanism is one of the alternatives under consideration as clubs and leagues plan for the hoped-for resumption of a season interrupted more than two months ago by Covid-19.

The announcement followed a meeting of the FIGC board where directors agreed that their priority was re-starting Serie A, Italy’s top flight, by the middle of next month and completing the 12 matches pending in the 2019-2020 season before the end of August.

“In accord with the principle of sporting merit as the basis of competition … the FIGC expressed the will to renew and complete the national professional competitions, setting Aug. 20 as the date to finish Serie A, Serie B (second division) and Serie C (third division),” the federation said in a statement.

“It will be for the board of directors to determine, before the start of activity, the standards of results of the competitions in case that they have to be suspended again,” the FIGC said.

One possible scenario in the event of another interruption would be to decide the Serie A championship through a playoff. At the other end of the table, a “play-out” would determine the three teams to be relegated to Serie B.

Similar arrangements would be applied in the second and third divisions.

And if it proves impossible to continue with the 2019-2020 season, the FIGC directors will establish “objective co-efficients” to proclaim a Serie A winner and consign three clubs to relegation.

The Technical Scientific Committee advising the Italian government on handling the coronavirus pandemic authorized professional soccer teams to resume in-person group training this week.

Italy’s minister for sport, Vincenzo Spadafora, plans to meet with FIGC president Gabriele Gravina and Serie A chief Paolo Dal Pino on May 28 to decide “if and when” the professional season can re-start.

Last weekend, Germany’s Bundesliga became the first of the five elite European soccer leagues to return to action, albeit in closed stadiums.

In France, the government’s ban on public gatherings through mid-July prompted Ligue 1 to cancel the balance of the season and award the title to leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

But Spain’s LaLiga and the English Premier League, like Serie A, continue to operate on the premise that they will conclude the 2019-2020 season.

While Liverpool were 25 points clear atop the Premier League when play was halted, the title races in Spain, Italy and Germany looked likely to go down to the wire. EFE am/dr

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