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Coronavirus

Spanish League Wants Players Tested Daily during Training

April 23, 2020

MADRID — The Spanish league wants all players and coaches tested daily for the coronavirus when trainings resume.

The information is on a league protocol to which The Associated Press gained access after it was sent to Spanish clubs and other European leagues last week. The 23-page protocol was prepared in a partnership with the medical staff of some first division clubs and details a four-stage training plan before competitions can resume.

It includes guidelines to guarantee “the safety of players and their immediate families, the coaching staff” and everyone else involved in the trainings.

There is still no timetable for the resumption of practices, and the league is not expected to restart before the end of May. A vaccine hasn’t been discovered either. The league said it will be up to Spanish health authorities to determine when clubs will be allowed to return to action.

Real Sociedad tried to start individual trainings recently but was not allowed by the government because sports facilities are to remain closed as part of lockdown measures. In Spain, more than 22,000 people have died of COVID-19, according to John Hopkins University.

The government met with the league and the Spanish Football Federation last weekend and said they reached an agreement for the return to training without elaborating.

The league’s training protocol was obtained by the AP a day after Spain’s players’ association sent a letter to government officials expressing concern about resuming competitions. It said players want to make sure it will be OK for them to be tested while there is “a demand” for such tests “in society.” They also called for clear guidelines from health authorities to guarantee everyone’s safety.

The El Mundo newspaper said on Thursday the government will authorize thousands of tests to be performed on soccer players and other squad members.

The league wants the tests to be daily, and conducted starting when the individual training stage begins in order to “detect the so-called false negatives” who can still pass the virus to others. It said the clubs’ medical staff also will have to be tested daily.

The league’s protocol also establishes a minimum of three “obligatory” tests for “all those who are to take part in the club’s training camp.”

The first tests should be undertaken two days before the start of the individual sessions and will include a serology test to identify those who are immune. There should be two other monitoring tests before the start of the group training stage and before the competitions resume.

The league’s protocol recommends a period of “around 15 days of group and/or collective training” before competitions can resume. The four stages of the protocol contemplate a preparation phase that would be followed by solo practices, smaller group sessions, and finally full squad sessions.

The protocol includes detailed sections on how the clubs must operate the training facilities, including areas such as the kitchen, laundry room, dressing room, gym and physio room.

Several first division players and team members have been infected with the new coronavirus.

The country is in a lockdown at least until May 9.

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