An increasingly bitter row is erupting between Minister for Sport Vincenzo Spadafora, the FIGC and 18 out of 20 Serie A clubs over whether to finish this season.
The coronavirus pandemic is easing in Italy, with under 2,000 now in intensive care and deaths levelling out at around 330 per day, which is allowing for a step into Phase Two from May 4.
However, the wording of the Government decree already irritated the clubs, as it allows athletes from individual sports such as tennis to train in sports centres, while citizens can go running in the local park, but football players cannot do the same in their training grounds until May 18.
They argue it would be far safer and easier to ensure social distancing measures inside a walled-off training ground with multiple pitches, so Italy should copy the Spanish model of emerging from lockdown.
Minister for Sport Spadafora has been an increasingly problematic figure in all this, as he continues to send out messages suggesting “a return to training does not necessarily mean the season can resume” and “the pathway towards a resumption is increasingly narrow. Serie A should prepare a Plan B.”
According to the latest reports, the split is caused by Brescia and Torino wanting to end the season here, while Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte keeps assuring he is eager to get the campaign resumed, Minister for Sport Spadafora seems to be entirely against the idea.
An emergency Lega Serie A videoconference meeting is set for tomorrow to discuss the situation and even the Players’ Association is on board, openly criticising the lack of logic in the latest Government decree.
FIGC President Gabriele Gravina made his position clear last night and this has created an ugly split, essentially telling the Government to pull the plug and take responsibility rather than just throwing obstacles in their way.
“As long as I’m President of the FIGC, I’ll never sign off stopping the season because that would be the death of Italian football,” said Gravina.
“I’m protecting the interests of everyone so, I repeat, I refuse to sign off a total shutdown, unless there are objective conditions relating to the health of everyone involved, but someone has to tell me clearly and stop me from moving forward.
“With a total shutdown, the system would lose €700-800m. If we were to play behind closed doors, the losses would be €300m, and if we restarted with fans, the losses would amount to €100-150m, even though the latter isn’t viable.
“We have strong contractual responsibilities towards international partners and institutions, such as UEFA and FIFA.”
While Ligue 1 has already called off the rest of the 2019-20 season, Serie A can rely on La Liga, Bundesliga and Premier League - not to mention UEFA - for support on progressing.