Spanish football players return to training camps, get tested

MADRID (AP) — Football players in Spain returned to their team’s training camps on Wednesday for the first time since the country entered a lockdown nearly two months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Players for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atlético Madrid and other clubs started preparing for the return to training this week. They were all expected to be tested for COVID-19 and should be cleared to practise once the results are back. Most clubs are expected to resume practising by the end of the week.

The majority of players did not wear masks or gloves when they arrived, according to Spanish media. Lionel Messi, Gerard Piqué and Luis Suárez were among those without masks when they drove into Barcelona’s training centre. Antoine Griezmann, Arturo Vidal and Ivan Rakitic did wear masks. Sergi Roberto arrived without a mask but had one on when he left.

Real Madrid players Gareth Bale, Luka Modric and Karim Benzema arrived without masks, as did most of their teammates.

Atlético Madrid posted some photos of its players arriving for tests wearing gloves and masks. In general, players didn’t stay long at the club facilities, usually less than 30 minutes.

Poster of Atletico Madrid soccer players at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium. PHOTO: AP

Coaches also went to training camps and were tested. Barcelona coach Quique Setién was wearing gloves and a mask when he arrived.

The training centres of all clubs were disinfected over the last couple of days. In addition to the players, all members of the coaching staff and other employees involved in training have to be tested for COVID-19 before the practice sessions can resume.

The league wants the clubs to test all players daily after they start training.

Players will initially practise individually. Smaller group sessions and full squad sessions will be allowed in upcoming weeks. The league sent clubs a protocol with safety guidelines on how to return to practice, detailing all measures that the players and the clubs must adopt.

The league wants a training period of about a month before it can restart. It hopes to resume sometime in June with games without fans.

Spain this week began easing some of the lockdown measures that were put in place in mid-March. Football players have been among the few athletes allowed to return to training facilities.

However, players and coaches of Spanish club Eibar released a statement on Tuesday saying they were concerned about playing again amid the pandemic.