Barcelona’s players will return to their training ground, on Wednesday, for the first time since early March to undergo testing for the coronavirus as La Liga clubs begin the path back to activity ahead of a planned return to action in June.
“The first team will return to the training ground on Wednesday to do the necessary tests before starting individual training in the next few days,” the Spanish champions said in a statement on Tuesday.
“After completing its inspection of the club’s facilities this morning, La Liga has given the green light to carry out these tests in order to guarantee the safety of the players.”
Barca’s last match was a 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad on March 7, which took them two points clear of Real Madrid with 11 rounds of matches remaining in the league campaign.
La Liga’s organising body announced on Monday that all clubs would begin testing their players this week as part of the first phase of a four-step protocol to return to playing matches, without spectators, in June.
Spanish club Eibar express fears about return to training
Players from La Liga side Eibar have issued a joint statement expressing their concerns about returning to training and matches while the new coronavirus remains a threat.
Spanish football has been on hold since March due to the pandemic, although clubs are due to start individual training this week once they have undergone testing for the virus ahead of an expected return to matches, without spectators, by June.
Sides will be given daily testing for the virus, and training centres will be subjected to strict conditions on hygiene once activity resumes, although some players have spoken out about returning to matches.
On Tuesday, Eibar became the first top-flight club to publicly express their concerns.
“We are worried about starting an activity in which we will not be able to complete the first recommendation of all experts which is physical distance,” the players said in a statement given to radio station Cadena Ser.
“It worries us that by doing what we like most we could get infected and infect our family and friends and even contribute to a new wave of the pandemic with the terrible consequences that would have for the whole population.”
The coronavirus has claimed more than 25,000 lives in Spain since February, but the spread of the disease and the death toll has slowed as a result of one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe, which the government has now begun loosening.
“The health of everyone should be the most important thing and now is the time to back this idea up with actions and not just words. We ask for guarantees and we demand responsibility,” the Eibar players said.
La Liga responded by saying it was natural for players to be cautious about returning to work, but it said it was taking appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
“Of course we understand that people have various emotions, including fear,” said a league spokesman.
“This is an unprecedented time. However, we are taking many precautions for a safe and controlled return of football. Playing football will be safer than, for example, going to the supermarket or pharmacy.”