'Impossible to set date' for Serie A return, says sports minister

Milan (AFP) –


Italy's sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora warned Wednesday that it was impossible to set a date for a return to Serie A action as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

"We all hope that the championships can resume regularly, at the same time today it is impossible to set a certain date," Spadafora said during question time in the Italian parliament.

"We must wait for data on the curve of contagions in the next two weeks, since only two days ago the country started the gradual phase of reopening.

"Only then will the government be able to decide."

Italian football has been on hold since March 10 amid the COVID-19 pandemic which has killed more than 29,000 people in Italy.

Players have been allowed to return to individual training in team sports centres this week but must wait until May 18 at the earliest to be allowed to train as a group.

On Thursday, the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) will meet the government's Technical Scientific Committee to discuss the medical protocol for group training.

"We hope the hearing will give the green light for team training sessions, considering also that football does not allow for safety distances or the use of personal protective equipment," continued Spadafora.

The minister said the pressure to resume football was "quite incomprehensible in the eyes of millions of Italians worried about their health and their work".

"The idea of establishing now the date of resumption of the championship contrasts with the need to define the steps based on the trend of the data," he added.

"I remind you that for the moment the only certain dates are for those countries that have decided to block the championships."

France and the Netherlands have ended their seasons but on Wednesday Germany's Bundesliga got the green light to restart behind closed doors from mid-May.

European federations have a deadline of May 25 to inform UEFA if their league will resume, and if so on what date and with what format.