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THE CONTROVERSIAL PLAN IN LA LIGA

27 Apr 2020
La Liga presented the plans and the dates to restart the season, but it already had to make adjustments after the first protests.

La Liga and the Spanish government, represented by the sporting council (CSD), had a first meeting in which the plan to relaunch professional football was presented, it wasn’t public as the government clarified that first it needs to be approved by health authorities, but the plan was public after all after been revealed by the clubs’ doctors, who had a meeting at the start of the week in which this plan was presented to them.

The plan had three key dates, the first was April 28, date in which it was scheduled to make the first COVID-19 tests (PCR and immunological) to the players and coaching staff, then May 4, date in which it was expected to restart the trainings, and finally June 5/6/7, date in which it was expected to restart the league matches.

The trainings starting on May 4 had specific characteristics, within the first two weeks, the sessions cannot have more than six players at the same time in the same pitch and there are a lot of details that are managed, like the fact that there are specific instructions of how to handle the clothes and that the players must arrive to the training pitch using every day the same car. There are also isolating instructions for the players. In the next two weeks the number of players allowed in any session is increased to eight. By the time the competition begins, the whole team must be self-isolated in a hotel for the period of one/two months, frame in which the games will be played.

Immediately the plan was attacked by several fronts, starting by the same doctors that filtered the plan to the media. The doctors considered unethical the fact that La Liga already had COVID-19 tests when currently there are hospitals unable to make tests to their workers as it remains to be an scarce resource  (La Liga told the doctors that they already had 3,000 tests).

There was also a negative response from the players, Racing Santander’s players released a statement saying they were not going to take the tests until the hospitals had enough resources. And the health authorities also responded. Currently the Ministry of Health is only passing the COVID-19 tests when there a suspicion that a person has the novel coronavirus, so the tests are not for people that are considered healthy. The Ministry of Health also remained that La Liga should have informed that they had tests as the government ordered any institution to inform about their inventory according to the pandemic instructions.

In the end La Liga had to change the plans and announced that their three-point plan will be delayed and that the tests will only be made until the Ministry of Health authorizes it. The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, had a virtual press conference and defended their plans.

"There has been a lot of demagoguery. We are not going to do anything different from other companies, such as Seat, to ensure a safe return to work so that workers are not infected. The only thing we are going to do differently is to coordinate the protocol with the Government It has always been like this. We didn’t ask any other question. The protocol says that anyone who enters the stadium will know if they are infected or not. There will be maximum surveillance. The closed doors protocol will be hard and difficult for some to understand. sectors. But we are going to do it. It has already been done in Germany." He said defending the procedure of La Liga

He also refused to t talk of cancelling the season and even menaced Racing Santander that no matter what happens, there will be relegations, "The important thing in the UEFA statement is that everything must be finished. It is very clear. Until May 27, nothing can be decided. There will be no expansion of the leagues. I do say that. The model is 20 clubs with ten months of competition. And there are contracts. There can be no expansion. It would harm everyone. And I also know that there will be demotions. Of that I have no doubts.”

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry, Salvador Illa, said on Sunday that simply it isn’t known yet if football will return during the summer, “I cannot tell you now if professional football will return during the summer. We are pending of many things.”

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