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Swiss teams stay at home despite end of training restrictions

May 11, 2020 23:12 IST
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Image used for representational purposes

IMAGE: Image used for representational purposes. Photograph: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Switzerland's professional soccer teams were allowed to train for the first time since the coronavirus stoppage on Monday but most preferred to stay at home amid uncertainty over whether the league would resume and concerns from the players' union.

Top flight St Gallen 1879 and second division Grasshoppers Zurich were the only teams among the 20 in the top two divisions to confirm that they had held training sessions.

While leagues in countries such as Germany, Poland, Hungary and Portugal were quick to announce restarts after getting authorisation from their governments, the Swiss Super League and second-tier Challenge league have been less keen.

 

The Swiss parliament ruled on April 30 that the top two divisions could restart from June 8 but the Swiss Football League (SFL) said on Thursday the resumption depended on the outcome of talks with the federal government on aid for its stricken clubs.

"Such financial assistance is a pre-requisite for averting a situation that threatens the very existence of Swiss professional football and allowing the game to resume," it said.

The SFL is due to make a decision at an assembly on May 29 and said the league was unlikely to resume before June 20.

Of the other top-flight clubs, FC Basel, Young Boys Bern and FC Lugano had already said they would wait until May 18, with FC Thun and Lucerne starting on May 25 and FC Zurich on on May 28.

"Since the restart of the championship was accordingly scheduled for June 20/21, the first team will have sufficient time in advance to prepare optimally for the restart," said FC Zurich president Ancillo Canepa.

FC Sion, Servette Geneva and Neuchatel Xamax have yet to announce any dates.

Some clubs have made use of the Kurzarbeit scheme where employees get 80% of their wages from the government but they will no longer be eligible for this once they start training.

The Swiss Player' Union has complained that it has not yet seen the medical guidelines its members will have to follow once play starts.

Last week it said 63.9% of members who took part in a survey said they wanted the championship called off and 76% were against the idea of their teams being quarantined for one month or more -- a possible condition for the resumption of play.

Denmark's Superliga to resume on May 28 says Danish League Association

Denmark's top-flight Superliga will resume on May 28 following a gap of more than two months due to the new coronavirus pandemic, the Danish League Association said in a statement on Monday.

On Monday, Denmark entered its second phase of reopening society after a two-month lockdown, allowing the country's top football teams to resume playing.

The League Association said the season would restart without fans in the stadiums, and that it expected the campaign to conclude with the Europa League playoff game on July 29.

The league will restart with the final match of the 21st round of fixtures between third-placed AGF Aarhus and Randers, who are seventh. The match was postponed earlier in the season.

All the other teams have played 24 games each.

Some matches in the 25th round of fixtures will be played over the first weekend after the restart, with most taking place on Monday, June 1, the League Association said.

FC Midtjylland were top of the table, 12 points clear of second-placed FC Copenhagen, when the league was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elsewhere in Europe, some leagues are also set to resume, with the German Bundesliga due to start on May 16.

Two Belarusian games postponed due to suspected COVID-19 cases

One Belarusian Premier League match and one first division (second tier) game were postponed due to suspected COVID-19 cases, the domestic football federation said on Monday.

Belarus was the only country in Europe playing soccer amid the coronavirus pandemic, making it an unlikely draw for fans overseas where matches have been cancelled.

There are almost 24,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Belarus, with more than 130 deaths.

The federation said that the top flight game between FC Minsk and Neman Grodno, scheduled to take place on May 15, has been called off due to suspected COVID-19 cases among the home team's players.

The first division's match between Arsenal Dzerzhinsk and leaders Lokomotiv Gomel, scheduled for May 16, was postponed because of suspected cases among Lokomotiv players.

New dates for the games were not announced.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, in power since 1994, has been publicly sceptical about the need for strong action to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

He has called fears over the virus a "psychosis" and variously suggested drinking vodka, visiting saunas or playing ice hockey to beat the disease.

On Saturday thousands of soldiers marched in Belarus to celebrate the Soviet victory in World War Two.

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