Italy finally set to decide on Serie A resumption

In this file photo taken on January 19, 2020 AC Milan's Swedish forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic stretches prior to the Italian Serie A football match AC Milan vs Udinese at the San Siro stadium in Milan. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 28 May 2020

Italy finally set to decide on Serie A resumption

  • Brescia at one point threatened to forfeit matches if Serie A resumed and they were the last club to resume training

ROME: After weeks of wrangling, with several U-turns on the way, Italy is due to decide on Thursday if and when its top-flight Serie A soccer league can resume after the coronavirus stoppage.

Possibly encouraged by seeing how Germany’s Bundesliga has restarted without problems so far, the Italian government appears to have relaxed its position recently.

Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora, who is due to meet the head of the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) Gabriele Gravina ahead of the announcement, says the most likely outcome is a restart on June 13 or 20.

But only last month, he had warned that Serie A could go the same way as its French counterpart Ligue 1 and be called off — a comment that he said led him to be painted as “the enemy of football.” 

“France’s decision would have been the easiest one to make. I didn’t want to do it, I just found it shameful that I was being asked to decide on Serie A’s resumption at a time when the country was short of beds in intensive care,” he said.

“It is right that football can start again now that the rest of the country is starting again.”

Serie A’s 20 clubs have voted unanimously in favour of a restart although some appear more enthusiastic than others.

While Lazio, who were on a 21-match unbeaten league run before Serie A was suspended and are one point behind leaders Juventus, are raring to go, others such as bottom side Brescia seem less keen.

Brescia at one point threatened to forfeit matches if Serie A resumed and they were the last club to resume training.

One of the stumbling blocks to a resumption of the league was the government’s insistence that if a player tested positive for the coronavirus, the whole squad would have to be quarantined but this has since been dropped.

Teams will however still be subject to strict measures, similar to those adopted by the Bundesliga.

There will be no mascots, handshakes or team photographs before matches, children will not accompany teams onto the field and a maximum of 300 people will be allowed in the stadium.

When traveling by road, squads will have to be spread between two buses and will be encouraged to use charter flights when flying.

The players’ union is concerned about plans to stage some matches at 16:30 local time in the summer months while referees are hoping for more respect.

“Was the coronavirus needed to say that players should keep their distance from the referee when they protest?” asked Marcello Nicchi, head of the Italian referees’ association.


NBA star LeBron James opts out of wearing social justice message on Lakers jersey

Updated 12 July 2020

NBA star LeBron James opts out of wearing social justice message on Lakers jersey

  • ‘It is just something that didn’t seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal’
  • But Lakers star still working behind the scenes to improve the lives of others

LOS ANGELES: NBA superstar LeBron James said Saturday he would opt out of wearing a social justice message on the back of his jersey because it doesn’t “resonate with his mission.”
James, who has often spoken out against racism and police brutality in America, is passing on the NBA’s plan to help bring attention to racial inequality by having players wear messages like “I Can’t Breathe” instead of their family names.
“I didn’t go with a name on the back of my jersey,” the Los Angeles Lakers forward James said Saturday. “It was no disrespect to the list that was handed down to all the players.”
“I commend anyone that decides to put something on the back of their jersey. It is just something that didn’t seriously resonate with my mission, with my goal.”
James says he wishes he had had some input into the jersey change.
“I would have loved to have a say on what would have went on the back of the jersey. I had a couple of things in mind, but I wasn’t part of that process which is OK.”
“I don’t need to have something on the back of the jersey for people to understand my mission and what I’m about and what I am here to do.”
The vast majority of NBA players have decided to pick a social justice message when play resumes in Orlando, Florida.
James is one of just about 17 players out of 285 so far who have opted to continue using their family names on the back of their uniforms.
The list of suggested messages, agreed on by the players union and NBA owners and then made available to players, includes “I Can’t Breathe,” which is what George Floyd said more than 20 times before he died with a white police officer kneeling on his neck.
Other messages include: Black Lives Matter; Say Their Names; Vote; Justice; Peace; Equality; Freedom; Enough; Power to the People; Justice Now; Say Her Name; Sí Se Puede (Yes We Can); Liberation; See Us; Hear Us; Respect Us; Love Us; Listen; Listen to Us; Stand Up; Ally; Anti-Racist; I Am A Man; Speak Up; How Many More; Group Economics; Education Reform; and Mentor.
James said even though he isn’t taking part in the jersey messages, he is still working behind the scenes to improve the lives of others, especially people in the Black community.
“Being able to use my platform, use the NBA’s platform, to continue to talk about what’s going on. Because I will not stop until I see real change for us in Black America, for African Americans, for people of color. And I also believe I can do both, though.”
James said he always expected to play in the restart to the season: “I am here for one goal and one goal only and that is to win a championship.”