* Government announces 350 mln Swiss franc package
* Says money must not be used for above-average player salaries
BERN, May 13 (Reuters) - Switzerland has announced a 350 million Swiss franc ($362 million) rescue package for its professional soccer and ice hockey leagues but insists the money should not be used to pay wages to high-earning players.
The Swiss Football League has yet to decide whether it will attempt to complete the season after it was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic at the start of March, though the ice hockey season has already been abandoned.
“The cornerstones of the Swiss sports system are threatened by the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, such as the collapse of ticket sales and season tickets, the cancellation of small and large-scale sporting events and sponsors’ cancellations,” a federal government statement said.
“Experience from previous economic and financial crises shows that sport suffers more severely and more permanently from a crisis than the economy.”
The government said the money would be paid in the form of loans and that “federal loans must not be used to finance players’ above-average salaries”.
A further 150 million francs was made available to other sports and mass-participation sport, it said. ($1 = 0.9676 Swiss francs) (Writing by Brian Homewood Editing by David Goodman)