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Coronavirus: Spain's health minister not expecting football to return before summer

By Vincent Ashitey

Health minister Salvador Illa says professional football in Spain is not likely to return before the summer.

Spain has been without football since March 12, two days before the nation went into a strict lockdown, in order to battle a coronavirus outbreak which has claimed more than 22,000 lives in the country.

The Spanish league has already said that play will not resume before late May and the government's health officials, led by Illa, have the final say with regard to authorising the return of sporting activities.

Illa told the media on Sunday that: "It would be reckless for me to say now that professional football will be back before the summer.

"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."

 

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

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

"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 to decide.

"We must have a common strategy. All of us must pull in the same direction."

Some players had 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.

And Rafa Ramos, president of the association of Spanish football club doctors, has warned conditions will be very different if and when play does restart.

"All the material, even the pitches, will have to be sterilised before a match, at half-time and afterwards," Ramos said in El Pais.

"It's possible to be infected by an unknown ball but when you are struck by a sterilised ball on a sterilised surface it's very hard to get infected.

Souurce: skysports