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'No logic': Italian football baffled by coronavirus training decree

'No logic': Italian football baffled by coronavirus training decree
Italian football figures have reacted with widespread confusion at the government's latest coronavirus measures, which lifted restrictions to allow players to train in parks but not at club facilities.

The Italian government has outlined the easing of coronavirus lockdown measures which mean citizens can take to parks for exercise from May 4, assuming they maintain social distancing.

While the country's professional footballers will also be able to exercise in public spaces, a caveat to the law means they will not be able to set foot at clubs' official training facilities, even in limited numbers. Instead, they will have to wait until May 18 for that to happen.  

The decision has been branded "illogical" by the head of the Italian Players’ Association, Damiano Tommasi, who says it will mean players are exposed to even more risks as they attempt to return to full fitness.

“We can find no logic in this,” Tommasi said. “I am not talking about resuming the season overall, because that has so many unknown elements right now, but barring athletes from structures where they would be able to train alone and under observation seems strange.

“This is about the health of the players too, because this decree could create more risks than anything else.

"A return to full fitness is essential for a player after such a long lay-off, as it’ll avoid injuries and help them get into shape ahead of group training from May 18.

"But it’s one thing to train inside a home or in a restricted space, quite another to run on grass. In fact, in the long run, that can be damaging to the muscles.”

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That criticism was echoed by Roma coach Paulo Fonseca, who said clubs could guarantee safety measures for players at their own training facilities.  

“It is difficult for me to understand, because we can go and run in the park where there are many more people who aren’t being checked, yet can’t do individual training work at [club facilities]," the Roma boss said.  

“We have three training ground pitches here, so we can divide the players up and guarantee social distancing, whereas in a park with everyone running in different directions, you are much more likely to get infected there.”

The Italian government has given no firm indication of when football could resume in the country, with Serie A having been suspended since March 9.

That month saw Italy emerge as the Covid-19 epicenter in Europe, with the disease infecting more than 200,000 people in the country and causing in excess of 27,000 deaths. 

Juventus defender Daniele Rugani was the first high-profile footballer in the country to test positive for the deadly disease, and has since been followed by players at a number of other Serie A clubs. 

Ruganin's Juventus teammate Paulo Dybala is reportedly still returning positive tests for the coronavirus, six weeks after he was confirmed as having the illness.  

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Elsewhere, football in Europe is at different stages of potential resumption, with Germany's Bundesliga tentatively targeting a May 9 restart behind closed doors. 

Players in the English Premier league are also returning to club training facilities in small groups ahead of a possible June 8 restart.

The situation in Spain is less clear, although the French authorities on Tuesday stated that sports leagues could not return until September, meaning the Ligue 1 and 2 seasons were cancelled.

A key FIFA medical official has also warned against the resumption of leagues until September, even behind closed doors. 

That could cast doubts on plans in Germany, England, Italy and Spain for their leagues to resume in the coming months.

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