After twelve weeks on the bench, top flight football is back in Spain and there’s likely to be plenty of on-screen action all summer.
First published in Gazette Life, June 1st 2020.
Football’s role in the spread of coronavirus has not yet been confirmed, but it is widely believed that certain games were key in transmitting the virus across Europe. Among
them were Valencia’s Champion’s League game against Atalanta in the heart of Italy’s Lombardy region, which has been described as a “biological bomb” ; and Liverpool’s two legs against Atlético de Madrid.
The briefest of looks at these matches seems to come from a long-distant past now, as players hug and embrace each other and spectators bounce and jostle in a world where “distancing” is still unknown.
But Pedro Sánchez’s announcement that La Liga’s top two divisions could restart later this month, has been greeted with joy, although things are likely to be very different indeed.
Players have already been training in solitary, then in smaller groups, with regular testing now standard at most clubs . Other measures will include teams having to charter private flights for matches, confinement to hotels, tests 24 hours before games and constant disinfection of all shared areas and items, including the ball.
Matches will be televised and take place in virtually empty stadiums, with a maximum of 230 people permitted. These include players, management and their teams, referees and linesmen, ballboys, VAR officials, TV staff,club officials, security staff and police etc.
Currently, it looks as though La Liga will restart with the Seville derby between Sevilla FC and Real Betis on 12th June, with the remaining eleven fixture sheets involving matches being held on a daily basis until the season finishes at the end of July. This will allow the possibility of concluding European competitions in August.
Las Palmas and Tenerife are the Canarian teams involved, although both seem destined to a safe mid-table finish. Similarly, Lanzarote will not be taking part in any of the promotion play-offs planned for their 3rd division.