Vincenzo Spadafora

Serie A
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Italian sports leaders hopeful for early May return for Serie A

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Italy continues its battle with the coronavirus, but authorities are already planning for the rest of the Serie A season.

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Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora and federation president Gabriele Gravina have both spoken openly of a return during the first weekend in May.

It’s a bit audacious given the uncertainty of the disease’s run through the world, but it’s promising for us as people and sports fans to see someone putting a date on any semblance of normalcy.

Here’s Spadafora, from The Chronicle:

“I believe that Serie A can return on May 3. We will evaluate whether it’s played behind closed doors, or open to the public. This formula will then be added to international competitions, like the Champions League and Europa League.”

The conclusion to Serie A’s scudetto race will be interesting for once, as Lazio is a point back of Juventus with a dozen matches left each.

The sides were initially scheduled to meet on April 26.

More coronavirus connections to soccer:

Coronavirus: Italy may lift ban on sporting events by Monday

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MILAN — The Italian government could lift its ban on sporting events by Monday in areas affected by the coronavirus if the number of cases stabilizes.

The outbreak forced a number of sporting events to be called off throughout the country this past weekend, including four Serie A matches in the north of Italy.

This week, the ban on sporting events was extended from Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont – the areas hardest hit by the outbreak – to also include the regions of Friuli Venezia Giulia, Emilia Romagna and Liguria, until March 1.

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“If, as I hope, the statistics don’t give us different signs then maybe already by Monday these measures won’t be continued,” Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said. “But it’s only Tuesday today and we have to wait and see what happens over the next few days. The health of the Italian citizens is the most important thing.”

Italy reported a 45% increase in the number of coronavirus cases Tuesday, from 222 to 300. Ten people have died, all of them elderly or suffering from other ailments.

“Obviously, I can’t say I’m not worried because I don’t want anyone to think we’re underestimating this emergency,” Premier Giuseppe Conte said before meeting with visiting World Health Organization representatives. “But we trust that with the measures we have implemented, there will be a containing effect in the coming days.”

Italy has closed schools, museums and theaters in the two regions where clusters have formed and troops are enforcing quarantines around 10 towns in Lombardy and the epicenter of the Veneto cluster, Vo’Euganeo.

Serie A matches this weekend are set to be played behind closed doors, including Juventus’ key match against Inter Milan. That game is not only potentially crucial to the title race but also sees the return of former Juventus coach Antonio Conte.

Inter’s Europa League match at home to Ludogorets on Thursday will also take place without any fans allowed in.

Serie C canceled all games in two leagues which have teams in the north. Volleyball and rugby games were also suspended nationwide through next weekend.

The Italian Winter Sports Federation suspended all of its events throughout the country for an entire week, although it said that “for now” next weekend’s World Cup ski races in La Thuile in the Valle d’Aosta region were still set to go ahead. Those races are operated by the International Ski Federation, which has already canceled races this season in China that were slated to test the course for the 2022 Beijing Games.