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FOOTBALL

Calendar: When football will return to Italy

Serie A is coming back. Here's a look at when the action will start.

Calendar: When football will return to Italy
AFP

Serie A will return after a three-month coronavirus-enforced absence on June 20 with Torino hosting Parma in the first 
of four postponed matches on the opening weekend, the Italian league confirmed on Monday.

The championship will resume with fixtures which were called off when Italian sports was suspended on March 9 because of the coronavirus.

The first match will be 15th-placed Torino versus ninth-ranked Parma at 7.30 pm (1730GMT) on June 20 followed by Hellas Verona, in eighth, versus Cagliari, in 12th, at 9.45pm.

The following day fourth-placed Atalanta will host mid-table Sassuolo at 7.30 pm while Inter Milan, in third, will be at home against relegation-threatened Sampdoria at 9.45 pm. 

Most teams have 12 games left to play with 124 matches remaining, to be played in 43 days from June 20 to August 2.

After the four catch-up games, the 27th round of action will be played with matches scheduled from Monday, June 22 through to Wednesday, June 24.

Juventus, who are bidding for a ninth consecutive title, are one point ahead of Lazio. 

Third-placed Inter Milan are nine points behind the leader with a game in hand.

Maurizio Sarri's Juventus travel to Bologna for their first game back on Monday with Lazio at Atalanta on Wednesday.

Juventus will host Lazio on July 20 at 9.45pm.

The league has not yet confirmed the dates for the Italian Cup, which is expected to be completed the week before Serie A restarts, with the final on June 17. 

The return legs of the semi-finals remain to be played with Juventus facing AC Milan and Napoli playing Inter Milan.

Most of the matches will be played at 7.30pm and 9.45pm, because of the summer heat in Italy, with only ten games scheduled earlier at 5.15pm, in the north of the country.

'Signal of hope'

Games will be played behind closed doors and adhering to a strict health protocol, whereby the entire group must go into a training camp retreat for two weeks in the case of a positive test for Covid-19.

Italian football federation president Gabriele Gravina said Monday he hoped that a small number of fans will be able to attend matches before the season finishes.

“It is my heartfelt wish to be able to see a small presence in stadium for the end of the championship,” said Gravina.

“It seems unthinkable that in a stadium with 60,000 seats, there is no space for a minimal percentage of spectators who can attend the match with all necessary precautions.

“Certainly it is premature today but with the resumption of the championship, there could be a new little signal of hope for our country.”

The Italian federation outlined in a 40-page document earlier on Monday the guidelines for the resumption of competition, with a maximum of number of 300 people allowed in the stadium.

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FOOTBALL

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.

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