Italy’s Serie A on Thursday was given the green light to resume on June 20 after a three-month absence as one of the nations hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic begins to ease restrictions.
Italian Minister for Sport Vincenzo Spadafora said that the government’s Technical and Scientific Committee (CTS) had agreed to the health protocol proposed by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC).
“Italy has started to return to normal life again, it is only right that football should do the same,” Spadafora said. “The federation assured me that it had a plan B and a plan C. In light of these considerations, the championship can resume on June 20.”
FIGC president Gabriele Gravina told the minister during a videoconference that there would be a playoff system if the league was again interrupted, while the existing standings would be used if it was stopped.
“We had a very useful meeting,” Spadafora said. “From the start, I said that football could restart once all the security conditions had been met.”
No top-flight Italian matches have been played since US Sassuolo beat Brescia 3-0 on March 9.
Serie A now faces a scheduling nightmare for matches that are to take place behind closed doors.
“I’m happy and satisfied,” Gravina said. “The restart of football represents a message of hope for the whole country.”
Serie A teams were due to meet yesterday to examine the possible schedules for the remaining Serie A and Coppa Italia matches, 127 in total.
Most teams have 12 league games left to play, but there were four postponed fixtures.
“Finally today we have a date and the certainty that the championship will resume, it is a further signal that Italy is starting again,” Juventus captain Giorgio Chiellini said. “We can’t wait to get on the pitch and do what we love most, certain that we can give so many emotions to the millions of fans who were waiting.”
However, many issues remain to be resolved, including the schedule, players’ contracts which end on June 30 and unpaid TV rights.
“Having a certain date is certainly a step forward, but problems remain and we hope to resolve them,” players’ union president Damiano Tommasi said. “Footballers are not robots, there are concerns. A critical issue is [playing a] match at 4:30pm, which in June and July in Italy is unthinkable.”
The thorniest issue remains the two-week quarantine period in the case of a positive test, which Spadafora said would remain.
“I’m ready to bet on the resumption of the championship, but with this rule of quarantine of 14 days, the possibilities of concluding it are not high,” Italian Football Doctors’ Association president Enrico Castellacci said.
“It’s a crime. I’m not going to quarantine 50 healthy people. We don’t do this if there is a positive case in a factory,” SS Lazio club doctor Ivo Pulcini said.
The Roman club are committed to a resumption of the season, as they sit just one point behind leaders Juventus.
Kamaru Usman put on a Fight Island masterclass yesterday to retain his UFC welterweight world title by grinding down a brave Jorge Masvidal in Abu Dhabi. “I’m at the top of the mountain and everyone’s looking at me,” said the 33-year-old Usman after scoring a unanimous points decision 50-45, 50-45 and 49-46 on the three judges’ cards. The Nigerian-American Usman (17-1) looked the fresher fighter, with Masvidal (35-14) having taken the UFC251 headline bout at just six days’ notice when Brazil’s Gilbert Burns (19-3) tested positive for COVID-19 and was unable to travel. The Las Vegas-based UFC pulled off a power-packed schedule with
Thailand international Pitsamai Sornsai, a new arrival for Inter Taoyuan, is to lead her team against Taipei Bravo tomorrow in the 10th round of the Taiwan Mulan Football League. Sornsai, who is nicknamed Pui, has attracted interest from media and fans as the first foreigner signed to play in Taiwan’s women’s league. Inter are among six teams battling for the title this year. The addition of Sornsai is a boost for the international profile of women’s soccer in Taiwan and elevates the competition. The 31-year-old brings a wealth of experience, including from the Asian Football Confederation’s Women’s Championship, the Southeast Asian Games and
MONKEYS ALSO WIN: The Rakuten Monkeys kept the Brothers from the first-half title as they dominated the Uni-President Lions, scoring four in the fourth The CTBC Brothers still need another win to clinch the first-half CPBL title, despite thrashing the hapless Fubon Guardians 17-0 yesterday, after the Rakuten Monkeys beat the Uni-President Lions 9-2. Fans of CTBC Brothers were hoping to celebrate the first-half title, with a crowd of more than 10,000 packed into the Taichung Intercontinental Stadium for their home game against the Guardians. The figure was an attendance record for this year, when baseball and most other major sports events worldwide have been played in empty venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Entering the game, CTBC had pushed their magic number down to 2, meaning
Preparing to complete a ninth Serie A campaign without winning the scudetto, AC Milan decided that returning to the pinnacle of club soccer required a new approach. Roc Nation, the entertainment agency of US rapper Jay-Z is at the center of it, linking up with Milan to scour the world for sponsors, and use concerts and other high-profile events to attract new fans. And who better to ask about how to end a title drought than the team who just won their league for the first time in 30 years? “We have been talking to Liverpool, because they’ve been through the same path