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.
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