Football: Serie A target June 13 return, but sports minister warns restart only if safety guaranteed

Appropriate measures and protocols will be taken for Serie A football to resume. PHOTO: REUTERS

MILAN (AFP, Reuters) - Italy's Serie A clubs voted in a favour of re-starting the season on June 13 during a general assembly on Wednesday (May 13), although the final decision rests with the government.

The Italian top flight has been suspended since March 9 because of the Covid-19 pandemic and, although the government has authorised teams to hold collective training sessions from next Monday, it has not yet decided if and when the championship can resume.

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

Serie A said the clubs had also called on broadcasting rights holders to "respect the payment deadlines set out in the contracts in order to maintain a constructive relationship with them."

Italian Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora had earlier on Wednesday insisted that Serie A football will resume only when "the safety of all" is guaranteed, saying he found the intense debate "excessive".

"If the championship resumes, as we all hope, it will be because we'll have taken the appropriate measures and protocols to resume in complete safety, for all," he told the Italian Senate.

Italian teams returned to individual training after a two-month, coronavirus-induced lockdown on May 4, with group sessions set for May 18 under very strict conditions.

There has been much debate over the quarantine period after a positive test, with government scientists seeking a two-week isolation period for those in contact with the infected person.

"Someone asked why a supermarket does not close if the cashier is positive while if a player is, the whole team is sent to quarantine," said Spadafora.

"Because in football, it is not possible to keep a distance with players having to run and mark each other, which does not happen in the supermarket.

"Football is by nature a sport where you cannot maintain distances. Players must run, score, find themselves in the penalty area."

Spadafora added: "I'm aware of the passion surrounding football and the importance of the sector, but I find the debate around football at a time like this excessive."

Italy has been one of the hardest-hit countries by the Covid-19 pandemic, with nearly 31,000 deaths.

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