|Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo has returned to Italy from Portugal as Serie A prepares for team training to resume. — AFP/VNA Photo|
ROME — Serie A clubs can return to team training from May 18 if they make adjustments to medical protocols, the Italian government announced on Monday.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) met with the government's technical scientific committee (CTS) last week to discuss details for a return to group training as the country emerges from a two-month coronavirus lockdown.
Italy's sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora and health minister Roberto Speranza said in a joint statement on Monday that the CTS had largely accepted the FIGC protocol for a resumption of group sessions.
"The opinion requested by the government from the Technical Scientific Committee confirms the line of prudence," the ministers' statement said.
"The indications of the CTS, which are to be considered stringent and binding, will be sent to the Federation for the necessary adjustments of the protocol in order to allow for the safe resumption of team training starting from May 18."
Football has been suspended in Italy since March 9 amid the pandemic which has killed nearly 31,000 people in the country.
The Italian government has allowed squads to return to individual training sessions in team facilities from May 4.
But there remain issues to be decided such as the quarantine of players in case of positive tests for coronavirus.
Italian football bosses want to follow the example of Germany, which returns to action on May 16, and where only positive cases would be put into isolation.
But the CTS insists football must comply with the general rule of two weeks in isolation for those who have been in contact with positive cases.
There are still 13 rounds of football to be played for some teams between mid-June, when the FIGC hopes to return to action, and August.
Since the return to training last week, Fiorentina and Sampdoria announced 10 positive tests. In addition, a Torino player tested positive.
Spadafora later stressed the many tests that will need to be carried out on Serie A footballers would not be done "to the detriment of citizens".
"If these changes are made, there may be collective training from May 18," the sports minister told Italian television.
"Whether the championship can resume, we will have to wait at least another week to see how the curve of contagion evolves and then be able to decide."
One by one players have returned to Italy, with Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo observing a two-week quarantine period and Swedish star Zlatan Ibrahimovic returning to AC Milan on Monday evening.
Italy on Monday reported fewer than 1,000 people in intensive care for COVID-19 for the first time since March 10 when the country went into confinement. — AFP