Monday 6 July, 2020

Italy's Serie A given green light to resume on June 20

In this April 20, 2019 file picture, Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates at the end of a Serie A football match against AC Fiorentina, at the Allianz stadium in Turin, Italy. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno).

In this April 20, 2019 file picture, Juventus' Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates at the end of a Serie A football match against AC Fiorentina, at the Allianz stadium in Turin, Italy. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno).

Italy's Serie A is set to resume on June 20.

Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora gave the league the all-clear to resume on Thursday, although it will have to wait a week longer than it had initially hoped.

Spadafora held a meeting with Italian football authorities by video conference after a medical protocol for matches was approved earlier on Thursday.

“The meeting was very useful,” Spadafora said. “Now Italy is starting again and it is right that football starts again too.

“If the curve changes and the league has to be stopped again, the Italian football federation has assured me that there exists a plan B — playoffs — and also a plan C — leaving the standings as they are.”

Serie A has been suspended since March 9, when the government ordered a nationwide lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The league’s 20 teams agreed earlier this month to resume competition on June 13 in empty stadiums. But, following a government decree days later banning sports until June 14, the Italian football federation swiftly announced that it would comply. However, it had hoped for special dispensation.

“The league will restart June 20,” Spadafora said. “There’s then the possibility that the Italian Cup semifinals and final can be played on June 13 and 17.”

The first legs of the semifinals had already been played before the lockdown, with AC Milan drawing 1-1 against Juventus and Napoli winning 1-0 at Inter Milan.

The rights for the cup matches are owned by Italy’s RAI state television.

“It would be a good signal because you could watch three important matches free-to-air on public channels,” Spadafora added.

The medical protocol is similar to that for team training, meaning that if one person within the group — player or staff — tests positive for COVID-19 the entire group must go into a retreat for 14 days.

There are 12 rounds remaining in Serie A, plus four matches that were postponed from the 25th round.

Juventus, which are bidding for a record-extending ninth successive Serie A title, have a one-point advantage over Lazio. Third-place Inter Milan are nine points behind Juventus but have played a match less.

The Lega Serie A is set to have a meeting on Friday where it could formalise the calendar.

Serie B, Italy’s second division, also plans to resume June 20.

“Soccer restarting represents a message of hope for the entire country,” federation president Gabriele Gravina said. “Our project is one of great responsibility, because it involves the entire professional world of Serie A, B, C and, hopefully, also the women’s Serie A.”

In England, the Premier League announced plans on Thursday to resume on June 17.

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