Players practice during a training session. File/ Reuters
The Spanish government has announced protocol that will allow training sessions to be expanded by all clubs, even those belonging to areas that are further behind in the country’s de-escalation programme.
It means teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona and Aletico Madrid will be able to train in groups of 10, a source at La Liga told AFP, despite both Madrid and Catalonia remaining in ‘phase 0’ as two of Spain’s worst-hit regions by coronavirus.
Espanyol, Leganes, Getafe and Real Valladolid will also be given special permission to do training in larger groups.
The move comes as a boost to La Liga’s hopes of restarting the season in the middle of June and following the lead of Germany’s Bundesliga, which staged games behind closed doors on Saturday.
Teams in the top two divisions in Spain have already returned to their training grounds this month, with players working individually as part of La Liga’s staggered programme, which includes regular testing and strict medical protocol.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has circled June 12 as the ideal date for matches to return but admitted the exact timing will depend on the health authorities in Spain and the trajectory of the virus.
According to an official statement by the government on Saturday, professional sports clubs “may carry out complete training sessions” while “complying with the corresponding prevention and hygiene measures”.
The statement puts the maximum number at 14 for group training but La Liga have informed clubs the limit will be 10 on Monday.
La Liga first suspended fixtures on March 14 and Tebas has estimated that failing to complete the season would cost clubs around 1 billion euros.
Meanwhile, Lionel Messi says he is comfortable with footballers returning to play again as La Liga prepares to restart the season in Spain next month. La Liga president Javier Tebas has circled June 12 as the ideal date for matches to resume.
Barcelona sit top of the table, two points ahead of Real Madrid. P0layers in Spain have started working individually at training grounds as part of a strict and staggered programme, with five players already put into quarantine after testing positive for coronavirus.
“The risk of contagion is everywhere,” Messi said in an interview with Mundo Deportivo, published on Friday.
“When you leave the house the risk is already there, so I think you can’t think about it too much because otherwise you’ll not want to go out anywhere.
“But we also understand it is essential to comply with protocols and take all the possible measures of prevention. Going back to training is a first step but we shouldn’t get complacent and we must continue taking all the necessary precautions and assume we have to start playing games but behind closed doors.”
Messi also spoke about Inter Milan striker Lautaro Martinez, whom Barcelona are reportedly keen to sign this summer.
Martinez is viewed as a long-term replacement for the 33-year-old Luis Suarez.
“If I’m honest I’m not sure if there were or are negotiations right now for him, I have no idea,” Messi said.
“Lautaro is an impressive striker, especially because I think he is very complete -- he is strong, he dribbles well, he has an eye for goal, he knows how to protect the ball.”
Earlier, La Liga club Getafe have denied involvement in match-fixing and defended their captain Jorge Molina after reports on Friday claimed he is under investigation by Spanish police in relation to a match against Villarreal last season.Police want to look into an alleged WhatsApp conversation that suggests Molina knew about payments made to seven Villarreal players in exchange for losing to Getafe on the final day of last season, according to reports in the Spanish press.
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