Serie A teams will begin training their players on an individual basis by next week.
On Saturday, May 2nd, a few teams announced that they would be resuming training on Twitter.
The first among them was Sassuolo.
Sassuolo is based in the region of Emilia-Romagna, and last week, the region announced that its professional teams could resume sporting activity, in compliance with social distancing.
Two of the other teams that are based in the region soon followed suit. Parma and Bologna both announced that they would resume training, despite the former’s initial reluctance to do so, as they wanted to wait for approval from the government first.
Shortly afterward, it was announced that the government had a change of heart and would allow all the teams in Serie A to start training again.
The decision was inspired by a variety of factors. The main catalyst for this was the fact that the regional authorities had allowed their teams to resume training.
This led to a domino effect where the government decided to reverse their previous mandate that only athletes of ‘individual sports’ could resume training.
Now, sports teams will be allowed to train their players on an ‘individual’ basis.
What the resumption of training will look like
All the teams will begin training their players on an individual basis, in compliance with social distance measures. In particular, Sassuolo has stated that it will use three fields and train six players per hour (with one player for each half of the field). They will also be training the players without the assistance of technical staff. They will instead, only have medical personnel on hand, in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The other teams in Serie A will most likely implement similar measures. Furthermore, the teams will also undertake preventative measures such as frequently testing their players and sanitizing their facilities. They will be doing so in an effort to keep their players and staff safe as the resumption of training gets underway.
Serie A is also relying on the fact that Spain and Germany (two countries whose teams have already resumed training) have models that are similar to the one Italy has implemented.
(Though it should be noted that a few players from Cologne tested positive for the coronavirus, and the team had to go into quarantine because of it.)
Italy also has the added bonus of a vast testing capacity, as they are the European country that has been the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The country is also starting a wide-ranging study with 150,000 blood tests around the peninsula to identify how many people have developed antibodies and therefore had the coronavirus, while also being asymptomatic.
This is being done in the hopes that the antibodies will help innoculate people against the virus.
A Change of Plans
As per Calcio e Finanza, Italy’s sports minister (Vincenzo Spadafora) had sent a letter to the Scientific and Technical Committee of Civil Defense (of Italy), asking them to rethink the current decree that says teams can resume training on May 18th.
According to the letter (which was intercepted by ANSA), Spadafora asked the committee to ‘go back and reevaluate the possibility that the guidelines for the resumption of training for national athletes and individual sports will also be applied to athletes of team sports.’
The members of the CTS took this into consideration and reversed their previous decisions on the matter.
Serie A was expected to resume team training on May 18th, and the previous estimates said that the league would start again on June 2nd. The new estimates state that it’s more likely the league will resume by June 10th with the Coppa Italia being played first. League play will resume shortly afterward on June 14th.
‘The training ban creates more risks’
The government’s ban on teams resuming individual training was widely criticized. Damiano Tommasi, the president of the AIC, even went as far as to say that it ‘created more risks’ and did not, in fact, keep the players safe.
The decree would allow the players to run in open parks, where they’d risk exposure to the virus as they would be approached by members of the public who might be infected. The argument is that it’s safer to train on an individual basis in sanitized facilities while also being monitored by medical staff.
He also went on to say that the footballers needed to train on grass, as training on artificial turf could lead to the players getting injured. Starting the season shortly after resuming training is also seen as a potential injury risk, as the athletes will need more time to get adjusted to playing in a practice session before playing for a full 90 minutes on a pitch.
The ban on team training was also seen as a power play by Spadafora. The minister wants to be seen as someone who is not afraid to stand up to the juggernaut of Italian football.
Italy’s former prime minister, Matteo Renzi, even weighed in on the matter, saying that Spadafora was engaging in ‘demagogic’ and ‘populist’ discourse. He even called the minister’s actions ‘intolerable’, and cited Spadafora’s role in the Parma vs SPAL debacle as one of the reasons for this.
Renzi also said that football should begin playing again, as the proper conditions are in place for it to happen, including routine testing.
Despite the stinging criticism from Renzi and others, the letter from Spadafora to the technical committee seems to have signaled a change of heart. As does allowing all of the Serie A teams to resume training.
The arguments made by Tommasi and others were seen as one of the main reasons behind the reversal of the government's previous ban on team training.
However, despite the resumption of team training, there is no guarantee that the season will start again.
Not out of the woods yet
Despite the fact that all 20 of Serie A teams will be allowed to resume training, there is no guarantee that the season will start again.
As per La Repubblica, Giuseppe Conte (Italy’s prime minister), could pull the plug on the current Serie A season.
Nothing is confirmed yet, however. And we will know the government’s final verdict on the matter this Wednesday.
Nice to see you again
AC Milan’s last game was on March 8th. They lost 2-1 to Genoa. The last game seems like it was a lifetime ago, and after a long hiatus, the Milanisti are eager to watch their team play again.
We all want to see our Rossoneri (and Rossonere) back in action again, and we also want them to be safe while doing so.
Milan will have to overcome a few obstacles before resuming training again. Chief among them will be recalling their players who are currently abroad. Nora Heroum (Finland), Dominika Čonč (Slovenia), Franck Kessie (Ivory Coast) and Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden) are some of the Milan players who will need to be recalled back to Italy.
Both Nora and Dominika were allowed to leave the country and play for their respective countries in international competitions. They were the exceptions to the rule that kept most of the Milan players at home.
Once they get back, however, all of the players who were recalled from abroad will have to quarantined for 14 days. This is one of the factors that could lead to a delay in the resumption of the season, as this rule will apply to all players who are currently returning to Italy.
Furthermore, there is also the issue of how Milan will resume training. Milan are based in Lombardy, and Lombardy is the region that has been the hardest hit by the virus.
If they are to move forward with this, they will have to do with caution. Though Milan has been exercised great caution in the outbreak of the virus, they have not been completely immune to the effects of it.
Both Paolo and Daniel Maldini tested positive for the virus in March. They have since recovered from the pathogen. These things will, no doubt, be in the back of the team’s minds as they begin the process of training again.
All we can hope for now is that the team will go about things the right way. And that we’ll see our Rossoneri and Rossonere back on the pitch soon.
The resumption of training is the first bit of good news we’ve had in a long while. This is a small step in the long road to recovery from the devastating effects of the coronavirus. The road to recovery from the virus is long and tough, but we’ll eventually get there.