Nearly 12 weeks after Italy’s top football league played its final games before the nation-wide coronavirus lockdown entered into force, the Italian government has given Serie A the nod to restart play on June 20.
The decision, announced by Minister of Sport Vincenzo Spadafora after less than an hour of virtual discussions with officials from the Italian Football Federation and representatives of Serie A, players, coaches, and referees on Thursday, comes after weeks of contentious talks and widespread media speculation on the topic, reports Xinhua news agency.
“Italy is reopening (and) it is correct that the football season should restart as well,” Spadafora told reporters.
Earlier this month, 16 of 20 Serie A teams voted to restart play on June 13, with four teams voting for a June 20 start. But that vote was contingent on health and safety protocols for players and fans and in the end, the latter date was selected because it took so long to agree to those protocols.
The agree-to rules mean teams will play in front of nearly empty stands and widespread COVID-19 testing for players and officials. If any player tests positive for the coronavirus, everyone who came in contact with that player will immediately be quarantined.
Other football leagues in Italy, including lower divisions like Serie B and Serie C as well as the Serie A for women, will also restart, though at a later date.
Spadafora warned that if data on the coronavirus infection rate in Italy, which has improved dramatically since mid-April, worsens, the season could be halted again.
“Should the rate of COVID-19 infection start to increase again, something that we are hoping won’t happen, activities will have to be suspended once more,” Spadafora underlined.
“However, the FIGC has assured me that a Plan B and a Plan C are in place where either play-offs and play-outs or the existing table will be used.”