Football Europe is emerging from the mists of the coronavirus. After Germany and Spain, England gave itself a date for the resumption of its championship on Thursday and Italy could follow in the evening, after a summit meeting.
Less affected than others by the Covid-19, Germany has already found its way to the field ten days ago. With Spain, England and undoubtedly Italy, these are on the other hand three of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic who will start playing football again, leaving the French Ligue 1 as the only major championship definitively interrupted.
For Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema and La Liga, the meeting has been set for the week of June 8. Mohamed Salah, Virgil Van Dijk and Liverpool will set out to conquer a title awaited for 30 years from June 17.
As for Serie A of Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Franck Ribéry, it still has to wait for the end of the meeting organized since 6.30 p.m. (4.30 p.m. GMT), by videoconference, by the Minister of Sports Vincenzo Spadafora.
The minister, who on this issue has sometimes blown hot and often cold, must give an answer to the main leaders of Italian football, including the president of the federation Gabriele Gravina and that of the Paolo Dal Pino League.
For these two men, who since the end of the championship on March 9 have been fighting to successfully bring it to an end despite everything, the most favorable scenario is that of a recovery on June 13.
It could be done with the semi-finals of the Italian Cup to offer the tifosi a weekend of football in the clear on television, which is one of the workhorses of Minister Spadafora.
- Shock City-Arsenal -
The intermediate scenario is that of a recovery on June 20, consistent with the line of caution defended by the government, but which would leave little breath within an extremely busy calendar.
And the worst-case scenario is that of a government refusal which, like in France, would force us to draw the curtain on this season of the coronavirus, a disease that has killed more than 33,000 people in Italy.
But the "calcio" is optimistic and believes in the green light. Because after two months of very strict confinement, Italy has gradually started up again and the daily figures for the spread of the disease are reassuring.
And this Thursday, several good news arrived. First, the "suspicious case" detected Wednesday in Bologna could ultimately be a "false positive". A second test has in any case turned out to be negative and must be confirmed by a final examination.
Then, the Technical and Scientific Committee which advises the government has validated the protocol for the resumption of competition presented by the federation.
Above all, England therefore decided to launch out, after several weeks of hesitation and a tortuous course similar to that followed by Italy.
The most followed championship in the world, the Premier League should, according to the British media, restart on June 17, with two late matches, including a good poster between Manchester City and Arsenal. The ten meetings of the 30th day would then be divided between Friday June 19 and Sunday June 21.
- Traps and surprises -
This means that the workforce will only have three weeks to get back into shape before returning to competition, a period that many consider too short in view of the risk of injury.
Italy, for its part, resumed the collective sessions on May 18 and is therefore a little ahead of England, which only authorized contact training on Wednesday.
Some questions still remain unresolved, some of which are European, such as that concerning players at the end of the contract on June 30.
Italian football must also find an agreement with its TV broadcasters, who have not paid the last installment scheduled, and address the problem of schedules, crucial when it will be necessary to play in summer.
But the question of quarantine remains the most thorny. The leaders hope that the curves of the Covid-19 will continue to descend in order to be able to request that it be shortened and individual rather than collective.
But before talking about managed quarantine, clubs and leaders must wait for the green light from Minister Spadafora, qualified by Corriere dello Sport as "a formidable specialist in traps and surprises".
But the surprise seems unlikely this time and the "Big Four" of European football is being reconstituted. Without France, which dreamed of a "Big Five".
© 2020 AFP