Italian Serie A, Leagues, Story

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Julien Laurens reacts to the Italian sports minister giving Serie A the go-ahead to resume June 20.
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Serie A will return on June 20 after an agreement was reached Thursday between league bosses and the country’s government, Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said.

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The league has been suspended since March 10 because of the coronavirus outbreak that has devastated Italy. League bosses had initially penciled in June 13 as a potential restart date, but that was made impossible once the national lockdown was extended to June 14.

Spadafora made the announcement after a conference call with representatives from the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), the players’ association and the Serie A league.

“Italy is starting up again and it’s only right that football can also get going,” he told reporters, adding that the government had approved health measures suggested by the FIGC plus a backup plan in case the league had to be stopped again. “In the light of this we can say that the championship can start again on June 20.”

One of the conditions of the Serie A league restarting was that the coronavirus testing it will entail “should not affect the general needs of all Italian citizens,” Spadafora said. He added that if there are signs of a new increase in coronavirus cases in general, the league may have to stop again.

Juventus lead the table, a point ahead of Lazio, with both sides having 12 matches remaining. Inter Milan are nine points off the top in third, having played a game fewer.

Since the stoppage, league bosses have constantly reaffirmed their desire to bring the season to a natural conclusion. Juve have won the past eight titles, but Italian FA chief Gabriele Gravina said the reigning champions would not win Serie A by default should the league be canceled.

As well as the Serie A matches, there are the two Coppa Italia semifinal second legs and the final that need to be played. AC Milan drew 1-1 with Juve at San Siro in their first leg, while Napoli take a 1-0 lead over Inter back to the San Paolo.

Spadafora said there was a possibility the Coppa Italia could resume a week earlier than Serie A, with the semifinal second legs on June 13 and the final on June 17.

“The restart of football is a message of hope for the whole country. I am happy and satisfied,” said FIGC president Gabriele Gravina, adding that he hoped the lower tiers Serie B and C plus the women’s Serie A also could restart.

The announcement comes on the same day that the Premier League said it will return to action on June 17. Spain’s La Liga is hoping to return by June 11, with the Bundesliga already back in action in Germany.

Information from Reuters was used in this story.

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