MADRID: Real Madrid star Gareth Bale says there should be no rush to restart La Liga during the coronavirus lockdown as the Spanish football federation plans tests and a return to training.
Testing players is being discussed with a view to completing the Liga season and thereby avoiding financial disaster, a source said.
Bale said he wanted to get back into action but felt it wise to wait and see.
“Everyone wants to play football, but the most important thing is everyone stays safe, we don’t want to come back too early. We need to make sure everything is done safely so we avoid the second wave of this virus,” Bale said.
The Bundesliga in Germany, where there have been far fewer coronavirus deaths, said on Thursday they are “ready” to restart on May 9 but needed government approval.
Rafael Ramos of the Spanish Association of Football Team Physicians said La Liga is planning to return to action in a series of stages.
“The idea according to La Liga is to test everyone on April 28 and 29,” Ramos said on Spanish radio on Thursday.
He added that the tests would be repeated every three or four days.
La Liga President Javier Tebas said several alternatives for a return to action were being mulled with May 4 slated for the return to training.
“The scenarios we are looking at could see La Liga restart as early as 28-29 May, but could also be 6-7 June or even as late as June 28,” Tebas said, calculating that the move could save Spanish clubs a billion euros in revenue if they complete La Liga and the European competitions.
Whatever Tebas wants, Spain is under a severe lockdown quarantine and is reeling after 22,000 deaths from coronavirus in the country so far.
The Spanish players union (AFE) agree with Welsh winger Bale in his call for prudence.
“Ask yourself if this is really a good idea. Is it safe? isn’t our main concern everybody’s safety?” Diego Lopez the Espanyol goalkeeper said on Wednesday.
Eight Espanyol players are sick with Covid-19.
Barcelona and Spain midfielder Sergio Busquets was also skeptical on the proposed dates.
Separately, two former Real Betis footballers and five former directors of Osasuna have been given prison sentences after being found guilty on Friday of corruption relating to match-fixing in the 2013-14 season in La Liga.
They were among nine people found guilty of conspiring to fix results to help Osasuna avoid relegation from the top flight in 2014, in what the court file said was the first ever sentencing in Spain due to match-fixing. Osasuna still went down after the team finished 18th in the table.
The case found that Osasuna paid Real Betis a total of €650,000 ($702,099), including €400,000 to beat their relegation rivals Real Valladolid and another €250,000 to lose to Osasuna. The fixtures occurred in the final two rounds of the 2013-14 season.
Osasuna director Angel Vizcay was handed the longest sentence of eight years and eight months for sporting fraud, misappropriation of funds and falsifying documents and accounts.
Former Betis players Antonio Amaya and Xavi Torres were each sentenced to one year in prison for sporting corruption, given fines of €900,000 and banned from football for two years.
Former Osasuna directors Miguel Archanco, Juan Antonio Pascual, Jesus Peralta and Sancho Bandres were also found guilty, as well as real estate agents Cristina Valencia and Albert Nolla.
Betis beat Valladolid 4-3 on the penultimate weekend of the season and then lost to Osasuna 2-1 on the final day.
But results elsewhere meant Osasuna went down with 39 points, along with Real Valladolid on 36 points and already-relegated Betis on 25 points.