Football in Spain unlikely to return before the summer

‘It would be reckless for me to say that’: Spain’s health minister tells fans they should not expect to see football return before the summer

  • Spain has been without football since March 12 due to the coronavirus
  • Country remains in a strict lockdown with the virus claiming over 22,000 lives
  • Government’s health officials have the final say to authorise the return of sport
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Spain’s health minister has said that Spaniards should not expect to see professional football restart before the summer.

Spain has been without football since March 12, two days before the nation went into a strict lockdown under a state of emergency to battle its coronavirus outbreak that has claimed more than 22,000 lives.

‘It would be reckless for me to say now that professional football will be back before the summer,’ Salvador Illa said on Sunday. ‘We will continue to monitor the evolution (of the virus) and the guidelines we will present will indicate how different activities can return to a new normalcy.’

Spanish health minister Salvador Illa speaking during a press conference on Sunday

The Spanish league had already said that play would not resume before late May. Madrid’s mayor had said that he does not expect football before the end of the summer. The government’s health officials, led by Illa, have the final say to authorise the return of sporting activities that would bring together groups of people and present a collective contagion risk.

Illa also appeared to dampen expectations that football players would be tested for the virus, as the Spanish league wants to happen on a daily basis once training resumes.

‘There is a ministerial order in effect for all different groups, including professional football,’ Illa said. 

It may still be a number of months until Lionel Messi (L) and Luis Suarez return to action

‘The tests must be put at the disposition of regional authorities, no matter what type of test they are. And it will be for them (the regional health authorities) to decide. We must have a common strategy. All of us must pull in the same direction.’

There is no timetable for when practice would restart.

Some players had also criticised the league’s plan for testing because tests are scarce among the general public in Spain and not recommended by authorities for people who do not show symptoms of the COVID-19 virus.

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