Italy begins drawing up medical guidelines for Serie A restart

Updated April 10, 2020

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STOCKHOLM: AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (C) talks with fans as he leaves the Arsta IP ground after a training session with Swedish club Hammarby on Thursday. Due to the coronavirus emergency in Italy, Ibrahimovic is currently in Stockholm to spend some time with his family, and is training with Hammarby, a club he has invested in.—AFP
STOCKHOLM: AC Milan’s Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (C) talks with fans as he leaves the Arsta IP ground after a training session with Swedish club Hammarby on Thursday. Due to the coronavirus emergency in Italy, Ibrahimovic is currently in Stockholm to spend some time with his family, and is training with Hammarby, a club he has invested in.—AFP

ROME: Italy’s football federation (FIGC) has begun to draw up medical guidelines for a possible re-start of Serie A, which has been suspended since March 9 because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The FIGC said that its medical committee held a video conference on Wednesday to“analyse and define a guarantee protocol for football in the event that sporting activities are allowed to resume.”

Serie A was roughly two thirds of the way thr­o­ugh the season when it was interrupted and the FIGC wants to complete the campaign to reduce financial damage. It has said it is prepared to continue until September or October if necessary.

Italy has been one of the world’s worst hit countries by the coronavirus outbreak and its death toll rose to 15,362 on Wednesday with a total of 124,632 cases. A number of Serie A footballers are among those who have been infected.

If and when we should get the green light for a gradual re-start, the world of football must be ready,” said FIGC president Gabriele Gravina.

Given the role that football plays in Italian society, I am convinced that we can make an important contribution to the whole country.

It said the protocol would include which tests should be conducted on players who have had the virus with“particular attention to the respiratory and cardiovascular system.”

In the midst of the health crisis, Italy’s top clubs have been at loggerheads over when is best to resume this season, if ever.

The Lombardy region — home to Inter Milan and AC Milan — has recorded 9,722 deaths while the neighbouring Piedmont, the home region of champions Juventus has also been hard hit.

Among the most vocal supporters of the season being scrapped are clubs located in the northern regions, such as Brescia and Torino.

Brescia president Massimo Cellino warned last week his club, who are at the epicentre of Italy’s outbreak, were ready to forfeit their matches if the season resumes, saying that“returning to play is pure madness”.

Brescia opted for a more conciliatory tone Wednesday, saying a statement:“The resumption of the championship is a possibility that the club would like to avoid while respecting the sad reality of Brescia.”

Torino president Urbano Cairo agreed: “In my opinion, the championship is over. The title will not be awarded.”

The president of Sampdoria said he cannot see any point in concluding the season if matches are played without fans attending.

Let’s organise ourselves to say that this championship must end here and now,” Massimo Ferrero told the Telenord television station in an interview.

It hurts me to say this because I want to start again but only seeing my stadium, which is the most beautiful in the world, with my fans beating their drums.”

But Lazio president Claudio Lotito, whose club are second, one point behind Juventus as they chase their first title in two decades, has been keen to return.

Juve are also leaning towards a return to act­ion as they target a ninth consecutive ‘Scudetto’.

Juve president Andrea Agnelli, as head of the European Club Association (ECA), issued a joint letter with UEFA and European Leagues, stating:“Any decision of abandoning domestic competitions is, at this stage, premature and not justified.”

Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2020