Italian government sets May 18 return for soccer training

FILE - In this Sunday, March 8, 2020 filer, a view of the empty stadium during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Genoa at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy. While soccer leagues around Europe are still debating whether and when to resume playing, the leader of the continents Federation of Sports Medicine Associations is calling for a detailed series of tests to clear athletes for a return to training. Maurizio Casasco, who is also president of the Italian Federation of Sports Medicine, said that guidelines recently published by his domestic federation should be extended for all of Europe -- especially if UEFA intends to resume the Champions League and Europa League anytime soon. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File)
FILE - In this Sunday, March 8, 2020 filer, a view of the empty stadium during the Serie A soccer match between AC Milan and Genoa at the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy. While soccer leagues around Europe are still debating whether and when to resume playing, the leader of the continents Federation of Sports Medicine Associations is calling for a detailed series of tests to clear athletes for a return to training. Maurizio Casasco, who is also president of the Italian Federation of Sports Medicine, said that guidelines recently published by his domestic federation should be extended for all of Europe -- especially if UEFA intends to resume the Champions League and Europa League anytime soon. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni, File) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

ROME – Nearly seven weeks after the last game was played, Italy’s top soccer division finally has a target date to resume practice.

Premier Giuseppe Conte announced Sunday that professional sports teams can resume training on May 18, while individual sports can resume practice on May 4.

The move means that the Serie A league could resume playing games in June — albeit without any fans in the stadiums.

Conte said that starting on Monday, Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora “will work intensely with … the soccer system, the professional sports in general, to find a road map that we have already partly defined in terms of the resumption of individual training on May 4 and teams on May 18.

“Then we’ll evaluate if the conditions will allow the leagues that were suspended to be completed,” Conte added.

Serie A has been suspended since March 9, when the government ordered a nationwide lockdown due to the coronavirus emergency.

Italy had the bad luck of being the first Western nation to be slammed by the outbreak, and its official total of 26,600 fatalities lags behind only the U.S. in the global death toll

“Being a big soccer fan like so many Italians, at the start it seemed strange to me that the season could be interrupted and suspended,” Conte said. “But obviously we found ourselves involved in this health, social and economic emergency. And I think everyone, even the most ardent fans, understood that there wasn’t any alternative.”