A complicated game, with many players on the field and often at odds
Exactly 90 days lasted – from the beginning of the lockdown – the negotiation to restart the frozen balloon in mid-March from the coronavirus, and had to reconcile different priorities. On the one hand, the sanitary ones, with the polar star of the safety of fans (immediately excluded from the return to the stadiums) and players entrusted to the Technical Scientific Committee. On the other, the economic ones, supported by the pragmatism of Lega and Figc, forced to deal with the serious consequences of an unfinished season, especially for the lost revenue from pay-TV and the more than probable appeals of the clubs damaged by the rankings decided at the table. In the middle the role of politics, with the ministers of Sport Spadafora and of Health Hope in the front line. The latter, on April 20, warns: “I am a great football fan but, with more than 400 deaths a day, it is the last problem we can deal with”. And even before that, Giovanni Rezza, director of the ISS Department of Infectious Diseases, had stressed: «The CTS has not yet expressed itself, but it is a sport that involves contacts. There are those who speak of repeated tests on athletes, but it seems to me an improvised solution. I would not give a favorable opinion to the recovery and I don’t even believe the CTS ».
And while Gravina clarifies publicly, on April 19, that he does not intend to act as the “gravedigger” of Italian football as president of Figc, implicitly inviting the government to take responsibility for closing the championship, the tension grows especially between Spadafora and the League : the minister accuses the clubs of “irresponsible choice” in wanting to play since 8 March, and at the end of that month – at the height of the pandemic – he is again confronted, with Spadafora convinced that “sport is not just football and football is not only the Serie A “and the League that invites him to avoid” demagoguery “.
In the midst of the lockdown depression, it seems that Juventus-Inter on 8 March was the swan song of the season. There is even a ‘conspiracy’ against the Serie A, a hypothesis that Spadafora rejects as “ridiculous”. The FIGC, however, does not give up and asks that the CTS examine the security protocol, “very rigorous” underlines President Gravina, drawn up by its medical-scientific commission.
At the end of April the decree on ‘Phase 2’ sounds a bit like a hoax. The sport can resume training from 4 May but only the individual one, in short, not even football each player on his own: the Serie A must wait until 18 for those of the team. It is still the CTS that invites caution: a positive is enough to quarantine the whole group. Football Federation and Committee continue to file the security protocol. Meanwhile, the majority A clubs (15 against 5) set the date of return to the field on Saturday 13 June. Time is running out, UEFA wants the tournaments closed by August 2nd to be able to complete the cups in turn. Meanwhile, tensions are growing even among the clubs that suspend the salaries of March and April and in the League they officialize cuts from one third to one sixth of the annual salaries and the Assocalciatori who protests, before criticizing the future FIGC resolutions on registration to the champions.
But the central point of an infinite story lies in the security protocols, for the recovery that everyone is waiting for. On May 3, ANSA anticipates that the CTS, after a confrontation with Spadafora, is oriented to give the go-ahead to individual training for team sports athletes according to a very detailed protocol, which excludes group ones. Therefore ANSA still learns that the measures foreseen by the safety protocol are under the direct responsibility of the social doctor. On May 19, a glimpse: “The CTS has approved the FIGC protocol for the resumption of team training for football clubs,” Spadafora announces. The obligation of preventive withdrawal for the teams disappears, a result very unwelcome to the players, but the 14-day quarantine is triggered in case of positivity, both for the infected and for all the others who can however continue to train.
It is the coveted green light of the government. On May 22, with the publication of the FIGC protocol for the resumption of the collective training of professional football teams and referees – updated on the basis of the indications provided by the CTS – Serie A takes another step towards recovery. So you get to the table – still virtual – convened for today by Minister Spadafora: all connected by call to restart a championship that really won’t be the best, but at least it gives back some real goals.