April 30, 2020 / 3:45 PM / in a month

Soccer-Spanish govt approves La Liga plan to test players before return to training

April 30 (Reuters) - Spain’s sports ministry on Thursday approved La Liga’s plans for clubs to test their players for the coronavirus before they return to training as the league looks to restart the season in June after it was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Athletes in Spain have been forced to train at home since early March due to one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, but Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced they are free to begin individual training at facilities from next Monday.

A meeting was held between the sport ministry and officials from La Liga, the Spanish football federation, the Spanish Footballers’ Association and top clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid among others.

The ministry said medical staff at the clubs would be allowed to carry out the tests. Individual training is part of phase two of Spain’s de-escalation plan.

Phase three involves training in small groups of up to eight players while phase four refers to full group training which needs to last at least two weeks before action returns.

Top flight matches will not return until phase four is completed, with 11 rounds of La Liga and the Copa del Rey final yet to be played.

While France announced the end of their season with Paris St Germain being awarded the Ligue 1 title, all major sports institutions in Spain, including the government’s department for sport, have committed to completing the season.

La Liga president Javier Tebas said not finishing the season would lead to collective losses of up to one billion euros ($1.09 billion).

$1 = 0.9137 euros Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru Editing by Toby Davis

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