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Sport

Factbox: European football's return to action after coronavirus

BERN (Reuters) - Professional football leagues around Europe are gearing up for a return to action following the coronavirus stoppage, but some are more advanced than others. Here is a roundup of the state of play:

Soccer Football - Bayern Munich Training - Saebener Strasse, Munich, Germany - May 5, 2020 Bayern Munich coach Hans-Dieter Flick as players look on during training despite most sport being cancelled around the world as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID19) continues REUTERS/Andreas Gebert

Germany: Teams have been training since early April and the government is expected to give the green light on Wednesday for a restart, probably from May 15, two people familiar with the preparations told Reuters on Monday.

Italy: There is still doubt over whether Serie A can restart, with government ministers, the Italian federation, the Serie A league and clubs all giving conflicting information.

Teams are training again from this week but the main sticking point is the Italian federation’s medical protocol - described as “insufficient” by sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora.

Tensions between Spadafora and the clubs have grown in the last week.

Spain: La Liga said on Monday that first and second division teams could start training this week following a protocol it had agreed with Spain’s sports and health authorities. It hopes to resume in June.

England: The 20 Premier League clubs last week discussed plans for a resumption of training this month followed by a possible return to action in June.

However, the league cannot take any steps until a government decision on possible changes to lockdown restrictions. Clubs were informed that an eventual resumption of matches would see them played only at neutral venues which have been approved from a health and safety point of view.

France: The season was called off last week by the government and Paris St Germain crowned champions. Olympique Lyonnais said they would claim damages after they were denied a European spot. Relegated Amiens and Toulouse also threatened to initiate legal action.

Portugal: The Primeira Liga is one of a handful to set a date so far and plans to restart on May 30. Teams began training on Monday.

Switzerland: The government has given permission for training from May 11 and matches to re-start on June 8. However, the football league said there were still numerous financial and health issues to be resolved.

Austria: One of the first countries to allow training, the league now says that the government’s health guidelines - under which a whole team must be quarantined if a single player tests positive - make a restart unlikely.

Sweden: Sweden has avoided a full lockdown and many teams are already back in training. Play could restart on June 14.

Poland: The league has announced that it will restart on May 29.

Hungary: The football association said on Tuesday that the season would restart on May 23 with two cup ties and a league game.

Serbia: First- and second-division clubs resumed training on Monday with competition expected to resume in late May or early in June.

Croatia: Champions Dinamo Zagreb and the other nine top-tier clubs were allowed to resume training on April 27 with the date of a return to action yet to be announced.

Denmark: The country’s FA is waiting on the Danish authorities to give them permission to resume competition.

Norway: The government is due to announce on May 7 whether football can resume and if so under what circumstances.

Finland: Teams have been given permission to train again, although the Finnish FA has been criticised for some of its safety guidelines which have been described as “hazy” by one club director.

Faroe Islands: Having avoided the worst of the pandemic, the modest Faroe Islands league looks set to become the first to resume with the date set for May 9.

Ireland: The Football Association of Ireland (FAI) is currently awaiting a green light from the country’s Health Service Executive and the league hopes to start in June.

Netherlands: The Dutch FA called time on their season on April 24 after the government banned public events until September. No champion was declared, but it was decided the top five teams at the time of the suspension of the league would compete in next year’s European club competitions.

Belgium: The Belgians were the first country to cancel the rest of their season, but formal confirmation of the decision has now been postponed four times, leaving open the possibility of a change of heart.

Reporting by Phil O’Connor, Brian Homewood, Zoran Milosavljevic, Julien Pretot, Mark Glesson and Richard Martin

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