Football return: League-by-league guide around Europe
PARIS, France – With the German Bundesliga on its second weekend back following the two-month coronavirus shutdown and La Liga given the green light by the Spanish government to return next month, AFP Sport casts a glance at the situation for football leagues across Europe:
On Friday, May 22, the Bundesliga started its second match day since returning from its virus hiatus last week, with all matches going ahead behind closed doors. (READ: Football but not as we know it: Odd sights from Bundesliga comeback)
It was not the first European league to return, however. That honor went to the Faroe Islands, which resumed its league a week earlier. Not forgetting Belarus, which was the only European country where football carried on throughout the last two months.
On Saturday, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said La Liga could return in the week of June 8, meaning league chief Javier Tebas' desire to restart on June 12 should now become reality.
Here are confirmed restart dates elsewhere:
Czech Republic - May 23, Denmark - May 28, Serbia - May 30, Austria - June 2, Portugal – June 4, Slovenia – June 5, Croatia – June 6, Turkey – June 12, Norway – June 16, Russia – June 21, Finland – July 1.
Still awaiting green light
England and Italy both remain hopeful of completing the season but ongoing concerns about the health crisis mean nothing is set in stone.
Six positive cases for coronavirus were detected at 3 English Premier League clubs, including Watford defender Adrian Mariappa, following tests of players and staff ahead of this week's return to socially-distanced training in small groups.
Premier League chief executive Richard Masters said on Friday that he is "as confident as we can be" that England's top flight will return in June.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) said on Wednesday that it has pushed back the end date for the current season to August 20, with matches not to be played before June 14.
On Tuesday Serie A clubs were given the all clear by the Italian government to resume group training. However sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora says clubs will have to wait until Thursday to know if the season can resume.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he needs "more guarantees" before the green light could finally be given for football to resume.
Other hoped-for restart dates include:
Romania – May 27, Poland – May 29, Greece – June 6, Switzerland – June 20.
The Netherlands was the first European country to bring an early end to the season on April 24 as the Eredivisie was canceled without a champion being crowned.
France then followed suit on April 30, ending the season with 10 rounds of matches unplayed.
The season was not voided, though, with Paris Saint-Germain confirmed as champions, European places dished out and relegation and promotion between the top two divisions maintained on a two-up, two-down basis.
Belgium has also ended its season, with Club Brugge champions, after the Belgian government announced it was suspending all sporting competitions until July 31.
In Scotland the season had already been called early in the three divisions below the top flight and the Premiership followed suit on Monday, with Celtic being crowned champions for the ninth year running.
Luxembourg and Cyprus also called an end to their seasons but without naming a champion.
However in Cyprus European places were attributed with Omonia Nicosia entering the qualifying rounds of the next Champions League. – Rappler.com