A report in today’s La Repubblica has laid bare the tension between the various governing bodies involved in Italian sport, and the contradictory statements made between them as the fate of the current Serie A season remains in the balance.
Sunday night saw an announcement from Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, allowing for individual training sessions to resume on the 4th of May, and for football clubs to reopen their training grounds on the 18th for full squad training sessions.
Italian FA chief Gabriele Gravina declared today that the situation will be discussed in a federal council meeting on the 8th of May, and that “planning too far ahead in time is dangerous for Italian football”. Gravina, in some sorts a mediator in this situation, has on this occasion sided with the government’s ruling, denying any political agreement in place to favour the swift return of Italian football.
However, Minister for Sport Vincenzo Spadafora then declared that the medical protocol for training sessions presented by the Italian FA did not go far enough according to the ministry’s medical committee, and would have to be reviewed before the 18th. Spadafora, who had announced that a resumption of football was not a given, bemoaned Serie A presidents “for interpreting the government’s ‘we’ll see’ into an inability or unwillingness to decide, or to penalise football. It’s not like that”.
Serie A officials and presidents had expected to return to full training on the 4th of May, arguing that this is the case for other sports. The deadline set by the Lega Serie A for resuming the current season, with 124 games left to play, was set at the 14th of June in order to comply with UEFA’s August deadline for completing domestic seasons.
With the government not declaring whether June will see a return to play, Serie A presidents are refusing to start training sessions again on the 18th until a clear ruling is given. This decision is founded on the fear of the legal repercussions that might fall on clubs should the responsiblity for cancelling the season lie at their feet – they would rather this be undertaken by the government.
Within the representatives of the Lega Serie A various clubs are decidedly against resuming play, namely Sampdoria, Torino and Inter. On the other hand, Lazio, Napoli and Roma have been the main actors in pushing for the season to start again.
This situation has led to a total impasse with regards to the status of the current Serie A season. Serie A clubs – who are divided even amongst themselves – will push for guarantees from the government on returning to stadiums in June. The government, however, will follow medical advice and not decree this for the time being, meaning clubs will refuse to start training sessions again on the 18th May, going against the government’s directive.
Meanwhile, the uncertainty means that relations between Spadafora and broadcaster Sky Sport have worsened, with the channel due to pay the final instalment of this season TV rights deal on the 1st of May.