Italian FA aims to test players before re-opening season in May

The Italian FA intends to test all players for coronavirus by the end of April or the start of May, paving the way for a return to training — and eventually competitive games — sometime in May.

FA president Gabriele Gravina outlined this tentative plan in an interview with Sky Sports Italia, re-emphasizing the importance that the 2019-20 season be completed before the 2020-21 campaign can begin.

With nearly 20,000 deaths and over 150,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Italy has thus far been one of the hardest hit countries in the world. The Serie A season has been suspended indefinitely since March 9.

There is currently no set date for a return to anything resembling the regular schedule of training and competitive fixtures, but Gravina seemed to indicate that securing negative tests for all players in Italy’s various leagues was the first key hurdle on the horizon — quotes from the BBC and Sky Sports:

“As soon as the conditions are right, we’ll finish the championship. Soon, there will be a meeting. We will establish the procedure which we will then communicate.

“We will start, I hope, at the beginning of May with tests to ensure that players are negative and training can follow.

“Will we play through the summer? We don’t have a deadline, but the idea is to finish the championships.”

“The leagues will restart. They will start when the health of athletes and staff will be guaranteed maximum protection.

“We’re in touch with the Minister [of Sport Vincenzo] Spadafora and with the Ministry of Health. The [Italian Football] Federation will have an important meeting of its scientific-technical committee on April 15 that will also be attended by professionals, scientists and experts of the industry.

“I hope that we will restart by the end of April with the application of these procedures that impose, first and foremost, tests to guarantee all the protagonists are negative [to coronavirus].

“Then, the actual procedure of preparation and training will get underway. That is an omen to start as soon as possible with our league.”

It’s important to remember that anything said — whether officially or speculatively — in relation to the resumption of the current season is, effectively, being flung at a moving target. What is true on Monday could be completely disproved and shattered by Wednesday. “The start of May” could just as quickly change to “mid-June” for any number of unthinkable reasons.

Simply put: remain hopeful, rather than expectant.