The picture of what a restarted Serie A season could look like is starting to come into sharper focus, though there are still major questions.
Earlier Wednesday, Italian Minister for Sport Vincenzo Spadafora announced that the FIGC had acquiesced to the Italian government’s requirements for team training to resume, and that teams will allowed to again train as a group on Monday, May 18.
There had been several sticking points in negotiations between the government and the federation over the protocol for how to deal with any positive tests for COVID-19 between now and the end of a restarted season. The FIGC had been pressing for a replica of the German model, which called for any player who tested positive to be quarantined without any effect on the rest of the team. The government, however, had been pushing for a far more stringent model that required the entire team to be quarantined if any one member of the roster or staff tested positive for the virus. The government further required the clubs’ medical staffs to take on full liability if a player tested positive, something that has not gone down well with said medics.
Spadafora announced to parliament this afternoon that he had received word from FIGC president Gabriele Gravina agreeing to the government’s demands, and that he was therefore allowing group training to resume next week.
On the heels of that announcement, Lega Serie A announced its plans to resume the season on June 13. Games would be played every three to four days to get the 12 to 13 (depending on the club) remaining rounds of the season finished before August 2, the deadline UEFA has set for domestic leagues to finish so that they can then finish the Champions League and Europa League in August. The Coppa Italia would be completed in July.
That resumption is subject to government approval, and there are a ton of variables between now and then that could delay or ultimately prevent the resumption of play. Several teams announced new positive tests for players who returned to individual training last week, and there have also been positive tests showing up in Spain as they ramp up their own training protocols. In Germany, second-tier side Dynamo Dresden was ordered into a full-squad quarantine by local officials after two players tested positive. Spadafora referenced that team when refuting the German model earlier today.
As we just discussed in Episode 2 of The Old Lady Speaks, and as Danny wrote yesterday, there is still a lot of uncertainty to how things could turn out. If a player were to test positive between now and June 13, the resumption of the season would almost certainly be delayed, making it even more difficult to finish the season before UEFA’s deadline—not to mention provide justification for the government to simply order the season to end, as has been done in France and the Netherlands. If a player were to test positive after the season has already resumed, it’s not hard to envision complete chaos. What would happen to the games that team was supposed to play while in quarantine? Any answer would still result in a complete mess.
Of course, the hope is that things never get that far and that we end up getting some semblance of normalcy in a resumption, which would be a nice morale boost. But as Danny said, will we end up looking back at this wondering if it was worth it? We here at BWARO hope not.