La Liga players ask for clarity on Covid-19 testing as return looms
BARCELONA - The Spanish Footballers' Association (AFE) is concerned about players undergoing large-scale testing for the novel coronavirus as it believes other sections of society need tests more urgently, the organisation said in a statement on Friday.
Soccer in Spain has been indefinitely suspended since March, although organising body La Liga has sent a protocol to clubs in the top two divisions outlining conditions for restarting training which includes vigorous testing for players and staff.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has said matches in closed stadiums could commence from May 29, June 7 or June 28 in a bid to complete the last 11 rounds of the season and avoid potential losses of just over $1 billion.
The statement from the players' association said it had written to the health ministry and the sports ministry to ask if clubs were authorised to conduct tests.
It also reiterated players' concerns about returning to work while the virus was still a threat and said they were wary of being stigmatised by the public for using testing equipment at a time of heightened public need.
"AFE wishes to point out that footballers have made it clear that other groups in society need tests and access to healthcare equipment more than they do," said the statement.
"As workers, footballers will do as they are asked to by their clubs as long as there are no risks, which is why we believe it is absolutely necessary that the government provides clarity about testing."
La Liga's protocol, which has been distributed to clubs and seen by Reuters, states that players will be subject to at least three tests before returning to action. Players will also be obliged to live together in isolation, away from their families.
The sports ministry released a statement on Friday outlining a plan for professional athletes to return to work, which stated that players in the top two divisions of soccer and basketball could be back in full training by May 18 or 25.
It also gave a list of benefits from sport resuming, which include boosting the flailing Spanish economy, protecting Spain's reputation as an international sporting powerhouse and giving people a sense that normality was returning.
Spain has the third highest number of deaths from Covid-19 in the world at 22 524, although its daily death toll fell to the lowest in more than a month on Friday as the government prepares to ease one of Europe's strictest lockdowns from May.Reuters