It feels like years since we’ve heard any positive news about Serie A or soccer in general, but here’s something to give you a little bit of a boost at the start of the week: Fiorentina and all the other teams in the Italian top flight are clear to resume training at their team centers on Monday, 18 May. This should set the stage for the season—which saw its most recent match played on 9 March—to resume some time in June.
Now that prime minister Giuseppe Conte is on the verge of initiating the second phase of the Italian lockdown—limited opening of businesses and public spaces while still enforcing social distancing rules—players will return to work with an eye to finishing the season. There are still numerous hurdles to clear before the Viola are back, largely based around what regional and civic authorities deem to be safe and appropriate in their jurisdictions, but it does look like we could see both the men’s and the women’s teams back on the practice fields soon.
What comes next is still up in the air. Serie A boss Gabriele Gravina got all 20 teams in the league to agree to try and finish the season as long as they receive clearance from medical authorities to do so, which is a pretty abrupt reversal from Torino, Sampdoria, and especially Brescia. He’s working closely with Italian minister of sport Vincenzo Spadafora to get things moving again.
The clubs are desperate to get back to playing as well, as the financial hit they’ve taken in the absence of broadcasting fees and stadium tickets has been massive. The former could make the difference between life and death for some outfits on the edge, although a lot of teams, particularly at the lower levels, are likely to fold. Resuming play will go a long way towards keeping teams solvent.
No matter how and when the season resumes, though, it will be in empty stadia. Preserving the safety of players and staff will be difficult enough without adding fans to the equation. While it’s going to be bizarre—remember Fiorentina’s final match at Udinese that featured a Zebrette coach getting sent off because the ref could hear him cussing in the empty arena—it’s a sight better than putting everyone in danger.
Assuming that the doctors and health workers can keep every safe, there’s also a serious risk of injuries for players who haven’t played at all in months; even a few weeks of training won’t be enough to get everyone fit, and there are likely going to be a rash of strains, knocks, and ailments that’ll knock players out, especially if they’re playing twice a week.
These are all details, though, that’ll be worked out in the coming weeks. The real takeaway here is that Fiorentina and the rest of Serie A could be back pretty soon, and that’s enough to make day whatever-the-number-is of being locked in your apartment sound just a little bit easier to swallow.