May 19, 2020 / 3:32 PM / 9 days ago

Sports Minister says Serie A restart depends on contagion curve

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Italy's Lega Serie A is seen in Milan, Italy, December 17, 2019. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo/File Photo

ROME (Reuters) - Serie A’s hopes of restarting after the novel coronavirus stoppage will depend on the progress of the contagion curve in the next few days, Italy’s Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said on Tuesday.

The Italian league has been suspended since March 9 and hopes to start in mid-June but is still waiting for government approval. Deaths from the epidemic in Italy climbed by 99 on Monday, the first tally below 100 since March 9.

“We all hope that the championship can restart as soon as possible but at the moment there are no certainties, as Prime Minister (Giuseppe) Conte has said,” Spadafora told the Italpress news agency.

“If the contagion curve goes down, we can confirm the expected date for the restart but we have to get there gradually, moving with caution and responsibility”.

Serie A clubs voted earlier this month to restart on June 13 but the government has since extended its ban on sporting events until June 14.

“The goal is not only to restart the championship but also to finish it,” Spadafora added.

The main stumbling block is the government’s insistence that if a player tests positive the whole squad must go into quarantine for 14 days. The clubs argue that isolating the player involved should be sufficient.

The clubs are also opposed to the stipulation that each squad, including coaching and back-up staff, should undergo a training camp in complete isolation before the league restarts. They say this would create huge logistical problems.

Serie A still has 12 rounds of match days to play plus four games postponed from earlier rounds. Juventus, chasing a ninth successive title, have a one-point lead over Lazio.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris

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