Italy’s Serie A to resume on June 20

Lega Serie A will meet on Friday morning to examine ‘the different calendar hypotheses’ for the remaining Serie A and Italian Cup matches. (AFP file photo)
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Updated 29 May 2020

Italy’s Serie A to resume on June 20

  • ‘Italy has started to return to normal life again, it is only right that football should do the same’

ROME: Italy’s Serie A was given the green light on Thursday to resume on June 20 after a three-month absence as one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic begins to ease restrictions.
Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said that the government’s Technical and Scientific Committee (CTS) had agreed to the health protocol proposed by Italian football chiefs.
“Italy has started to return to normal life again, it is only right that football should do the same,” said Spadafora.
“The federation assured me that it had a Plan B and a Plan C.
“In light of these considerations, the championship can resume on June 20.”
Italian football federation (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina told the minister during the video conference that a play-off system would be used if the championship were again interrupted, while the existing standings would be used if it were stopped.
“We had a very useful meeting,” said Spadafora. “From the start, I said that football could restart once all the security conditions had been met.”
No top-flight matches in Italy have been played since Sassuolo beat Brescia 3-0 on March 9.
One of the hardest hit countries by the coronavirus pandemic with over 33,000 deaths, Italian football now faces a scheduling nightmare, for matches which will take place behind closed doors.
Lega Serie A will meet on Friday morning to examine “the different calendar hypotheses” for the remaining Serie A and Italian Cup matches, amounting to 127 in total.
Most teams have 12 league games left to play, but there were four postponed fixtures.
Spadafora suggested that the Italian Cup could be concluded the week before the return to Serie A action.
The semifinal return leg matches between Inter Milan and Napoli and AC Milan and Juventus, could be played on June 13-14 with the final on June 17.
“I also hope to be able to send a positive signal to the whole country by taking advantage of the week from June 13 to 20 to conclude the Italian Cup,” he added.
The announcement of the resumption of the Italian league comes just after the English Premier League confirmed it will restart on June 17.
The German championship has already resumed and Spain’s La Liga will return to the pitch the week of June 8.
Among the five major European championships, only the French Ligue 1 has been definitively stopped.
“I’m happy and satisfied,” said Gravina. “The restart of football represents a message of hope for the whole country.”
But many issues remain to be resolved including match schedules, players’ contracts which end on June 30, and unpaid TV rights by broadcasters.
“Footballers are not robots, there are concerns,” said Damiano Tommasi, president of the players’ union.
“A critical issue is (playing a) match at 4.30pm which in June and July in Italy is unthinkable,” added the former Italy and Roma player.
The thorniest issue remains the two-week quarantine period in the case of a positive test, which Spadafora insisted would remain.
“The CTS agreed with the medical protocol, but confirmed the absolute necessity for a quarantine period if a player were to test positive,” said Spadafora, who did not exclude future changes to the rule.
“I’m ready to bet on the resumption of the championship, but with this rule of quarantine of 14 days, the possibilities of concluding it are not high,” said Enrico Castellacci, president of the Italian Football Doctors Association.
“It’s a crime. I’m not going to quarantine 50 healthy people. We don’t do this if there is a positive case in a factory,” argued Lazio doctor Ivo Pulcini, with the Roman club committed to a resumption of the season, as they sit just one point behind leaders Juventus.


Calvert-Lewin hits hat trick as Everton thrash West Brom

Updated 20 September 2020

Calvert-Lewin hits hat trick as Everton thrash West Brom

  • Rodriguez stars as Ancelotti’s side extend their perfect start to the season

LONDON: Dominic Calvert-Lewin hit a hat trick and James Rodriguez bagged his first Premier League goal as Everton crushed 10-man West Bromwich Albion 5-2 to extend their perfect start to the season on Saturday.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side fell behind to Grady Diangana’s early goal at Goodison Park.

But Calvert-Lewin equalized and James put them ahead before West Brom imploded.

Kieran Gibbs was dismissed for pushing James in the face in first half stoppage-time.

Then Albion boss Slaven Bilic was sent to the stands after storming onto the pitch for a furious rant at referee Mike Dean.

Matheus Pereira equalized for Albion after the interval, but Michael Keane restored Everton’s lead and Calvert-Lewin sealed the points with his second and third goals.

At 23, Calvert-Lewin is the youngest Englishman to score a Premier League hat trick for Everton.

After a summer spending spree, Ancelotti is under pressure to deliver a big improvement on last season’s 12th place finish and the early signs are promising.

Having beaten Tottenham in their opening game last weekend, Everton have started a Premier League season with consecutive victories for the first time since 2012-13.

Calvert-Lewin already has four goals and Colombia midfielder James, making his first home appearance since his £12 million from Real Madrid, looks a quality addition.

If West Brom are to avoid an immediate return to the Championship, they will have to improve their defense rapidly after shipping eight goals in successive defeats.

Diangana put West Brom ahead in the 10th minute when he advanced from inside his own half before drilling a long-range drive past Jordan Pickford.

Calvert-Lewin equalized in the 31st minute with a back-heel from virtually on the goal line after Albion defender Darnell Furlong inadvertently headed Seamus Coleman’s cross into his path.

The goal was initially disallowed for offside before a VAR review changed the decision in Everton’s favor.

James put Everton in front in the 45th minute when he took Richarlison’s pass and lashed a fine low finish into the far corner from 20 yards.

Gibbs added to West Brom’s woes when he was sent off for lashing out at James in retaliation for a challenge by the Colombian.

Bilic lost his cool as well moments later, angrily telling Dean that his decisions could “kill” his team.

Now watching from the stands after his dismissal, Bilic saw Pereira equalize with a superb free kick in the 47th minute.

But Keane poked Everton back in front after Richarlison’s header was pushed out by Sam Johnstone in the 54th minute.

Calvert-Lewin struck again in the 62nd minute, the striker sliding in to meet Richarlison’s cross with a close-range finish.

And Calvert-Lewin’s red-hot start to the season continued four minutes later when he completed his hat trick as the ball bounced off his back into the net.

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