Coronavirus pandemic

Hurdles ahead of Serie A return

The Juventus Stadium in Turin can start hosting Serie A matches again if the league resumes on June 13 as clubs have suggested. But no date has been set for the season to restart.
The Juventus Stadium in Turin can start hosting Serie A matches again if the league resumes on June 13 as clubs have suggested. But no date has been set for the season to restart.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Full training starts today but clubs may find it hard to enforce Italy's govt guidelines

ROME • Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has given Serie A clubs the green light to resume full training from today but warned that he needs "more guarantees" before the competition, on ice since March 9, can restart.

In a televised news conference on Saturday night, he said: "There are so many pressures to restart Serie A, but it is necessary that the highest safety conditions are in place.

"To give a precise date, we need to have some more guarantees than those we have at the moment, but from what I've been told, we haven't had them yet.

"I hope they can be achieved as soon as possible."

Players have already returned to individual training and the resumption of full training is another step towards the campaign getting back on track.

However, there are splits over how to get past the final hurdle, despite clubs suggesting June 13 as the date for play to recommence.

Many teams consider the health protocol that was drawn up by the Italian Football Federation, following the recommendations of the government's technical and scientific committee, as impossible to enforce.

Two points are proving particularly problematic.

The first concerns the logistical difficulties for clubs to try and organise a two-week centralised group training period from today.

Players would theoretically have to train together, then eat and sleep at the training centre or a hotel entirely available to the team to avoid any risk of contagion. But many clubs, especially the smaller ones, do not have access to all these facilities.

The second concerns the government's insistence on placing the entire team and staff in quarantine in the event of a positive test.

  • Point separates Serie A leaders Juventus and Lazio with 12 rounds of games left.

Italian clubs favour the German Bundesliga model, where only the infected player is quarantined.

Mr Conte and his sports minister, Vincenzo Spadafora, have been reluctant to commit to a concrete date for Serie A's resumption as Italy has suffered the third-highest Covid-19 death toll in the world, with over 31,700 fatalities up till yesterday.

Their cautiousness was justified on Saturday night, after Serie A side Parma confirmed that two of their players had tested positive for the disease. The unnamed pair were asymptomatic and have since been placed in isolation.

A statement read: "Both of them were positive on the first test and negative on the second that was performed 24 hours later.

"The players, both in excellent condition and asymptomatic, have nonetheless been immediately isolated and the club will monitor them constantly."

Juventus lead the table by one point over Lazio (62) with 12 rounds of games left.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2020, with the headline 'Hurdles ahead of Serie A return'. Print Edition | Subscribe