BARCELONA (REUTERS) - Spanish soccer began the path back towards normality on Monday (May 4) as organisers said clubs would resume training this week for the first time since activity was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic and targeted resuming the season in June.
Organising body La Liga said clubs in the top two divisions would return to individual training following a protocol it had agreed with Spain’s sports and health authorities and which guaranteed the safety of players and staff.
The protocol obliges players to undergo testing for the novel coronavirus before they can return to training facilities.
“These measures cover a period of approximately four weeks with different phases that, in any case, will be subject to the de-escalation process established by the government,” said the statement.
“Thus, together with the medical tests carried out by clubs, a staggered return to training has been implemented that will start with players training alone and with group activities prior to the return to competition, scheduled for June.”
La Liga president Javier Tebas said the season would bring back a sense of normality to Spain, which has lost over 25,000 lives to the virus and seen its economy paralysed.
“This crisis has had a profound impact on all of us. The return of football is a sign that society is progressing towards the new normal. It will also bring back an element of life that people in Spain and around the world know and love,” he said.
“People’s health is paramount so we have a comprehensive protocol to safeguard the health of everyone involved as we work to restart La Liga. Circumstances are unprecedented but we hope to start playing again in June and finish our season this summer.”
While France’s Ligue 1 was declared finished last week and the Dutch top-flight was also ended, the major stakeholders in Spain have remained determined to complete the season in order to avoid potential losses of around one billion euros ($1.09 billion).
Tebas has been particularly bullish about restarting the campaign and criticised the cancellation of the French season, which was the first of Europe’s five major leagues to fall victim to the crisis.
Spanish soccer federation chief Luis Rubiales, who has had some high-profile clashes with Tebas in the past, has also remained committed to getting the season back on the road, as has Spain’s minister for sport Irene Lozano.