Cristiano Ronaldo has been recalled from Portugal as Serie A clubs get back to individual training on Monday after a two-month coronavirus lockdown, but doubts remain over whether the championship can return.
Champions Juventus recalled their overseas players, including Ronaldo, who came back from the Portuguese island of Madeira and will have to spend two weeks in quarantine.
The interior ministry’s go-ahead for players to return to club training facilities two weeks ahead of schedule has offered fans hope that the 2019-20 season might yet be saved.
The government was answering after regions that had avoided the worst of the pandemic took matters into their own hands and gave permission to clubs to open their facilities for players to train on their own.
But sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora has warned that although individual training can resume, training in groups must wait until May 18. And with Italy still in the grip of the pandemic which has killed nearly 29,000, it is uncertain whether matches will be able to restart.
“Nothing has changed compared to what I have always said about football,” said Spadafora.
“Team training will not resume before May 18 and the resumption of the championship, for now, is not really discussed.”
Spadafora added as if to confirm his difficult relationship with professional football: “Now excuse me, but I’m returning to take care of all the other sports and sports centres (gymnasiums, dance centres, swimming pools) which must reopen as soon as possible.”
The Corriere dello Sport daily on Monday created a front-page photo of the minister with a dagger in his hand about to burst a ball, with the headline “Attack on Calcio”.
Officially all 20 Serie A teams have unanimously backed a return to competition, despite reservations from clubs such as Brescia and Torino, in the north of Italy, which was particularly hit hard by the virus.
Torino president Urbano Cairo agreed there were “divergent opinions”.