La Liga’s plan to restart football safely in Spain after coronavirus

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May 9, 2020
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    Lionel Messi

    Messi and Barcelona trained for the first time in nearly two months on Friday

    Lionel Messi and his Barcelona team-mates returned to individual training on Friday.

    They have done so after La Liga started testing players for coronavirus this week as part of the protocols in place for training to resume and elite football in Spain to get going again behind closed doors in June.

    The protocols are part of a four-phase process progressing from preparation for training, individual training, group training and then collective training.

    With Germany’s Bundesliga restarting on 16 May, BBC Sport looks at La Liga’s path to following suit in due course.

    Testing

    Players have to be tested two days before they can start individual sessions, along with any coaching staff and club personnel who will be part of the training camp.

    All players, coaching staff and those on the medical team will also have to be tested daily once training starts, while anyone else who is part of the camp has to have a minimum of three tests during the different phases.

    A positive test will mean that person having to isolate. Anyone they have been in contact with will also have to isolate until the test results come back.

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    Individual training

    Players will travel to training camps in their kit and on their own, with their arrival staggered and no more than 12 training at any one time.

    A maximum of six players can train on the same pitch and, after training, they will be given their training kit for the following day in a closed, biodegradable bag. They put their dirty kit in this bag at home and deposit it in a bin at training the following day for it to be washed.

    Group training

    Phase three onwards could see squads and staff based at a training ground or team hotel.

    First-team squads will be divided into eight-player groups, who will train in different time slots.

    Dressing rooms will be used during this phase but limited to three players in each, with training kits and boots prepared for them and placed as far apart as possible.

    After training, players will be allowed to shower in the dressing rooms they used and leave dirty training kits in baskets. These dressing rooms will be cleaned following each group’s training slot.

    Players will be able to use the canteen one group at a time, with social distancing guidelines observed and food placed in individual bags for them.

    Collective training sessions

    The next phase will be a full return to training, but the provisions on the cleaning of facilities, equipment and clothing will remain.

    All staff will continue to wear facemasks and gloves.

    What has been the reaction within football?

    Official figures show more than 26,000 people have died with coronavirus in Spain and there have been more than 222,000 positive tests.

    While La Liga president Javier Tebas has made no secret of wanting to get football up and running again, he insists “people’s health is paramount” and is the reason for the “comprehensive protocol”.

    “Circumstances are unprecedented, but we hope to start playing again in June and finish our season this summer,” he said.

    Real Madrid, second to Barcelona, with 11 rounds of games remaining, plan to restart individual training on Monday and their captain, Sergio Ramos, says he “can’t wait to get playing and competing… as long as there is no risk of contagion”.

    “I think it is time for those of us who are involved in football to take a step forward,” added Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic.

    However, there have been concerns expressed by the Eibar squad, who released a statement to a Spanish radio station.

    “It worries us that by doing what we like most, we could get infected and infect our family and friends and even contribute to a new wave of the pandemic – with the terrible consequences that would have for the whole population,” said the statement.

    “The health of everyone should be the most important thing and now is the time to back this idea up with actions and not just words. We ask for guarantees and we demand responsibility.”

    Source

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