Italy’s Sports Minister warns of ‘increasingly narrow path’ for Serie A return

MILAN (AFP) – Italian Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora warned yesterday that Italy may have to follow France and the Netherlands and call an end to their football and sports seasons because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I see an increasingly narrow path for the resumption of the championship. If I were a president of a football club, I would especially think of organising myself to safely resume the next championship which will start at the end of August,” Spadafora told Italian television channel La 7.

“The decisions being taken by other countries, like France yesterday, could push Italy to follow this line too, which would then become a European line,” he added.

In France, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on Tuesday that professional football, rugby and other sports cannot resume until the end of the summer, although his sports minister later told AFP it was possible games could be played behind closed doors in August.

The Dutch football federation called an end to the 2019-2020 season last week.

Players warm up in the empty Allianz Staidu prior to the Serie A match. PHOTO: AP

“I think the next meeting of the Lega Serie A may hold a surprise,” continued Spadafora, with Italy’s top flight clubs holding an emergency general assembly tomorrow.

“The majority of clubs could ask us to suspend this season and prepare for the next championship as best possible.”

The Italian championship was put on hold on March 9 because of the virus which has killed over 27,000 lives in the country.

The government has allowed individual athletes to resume training but team sports, including football, must wait until at least May 18.

“At the latest within this week, the technical-scientific committee will tell us if the medical protocol is feasible or not,” the minister added.

“Within three days at most we can say if Serie A can start training again on May 18.

“There is no doubt that if we were to resume the championship, the matches will be played behind closed doors.”