Doors reopen in hard-hit Italy and Spain with no certainty that seasons will resume

France's Ligue 1 was canceled last week. The Bundesliga should know on Wednesday whether it will get the green light from the German government to resume play behind closed doors.

Here's the situation in Italy and Spain, two European countries hard hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Serie A. Players will be able to return to their Serie A clubs on Monday after getting permission from the Italian government to begin individual training if social-distancing rules are adhered to.

Monday will be the first day athletes of any kind are allowed outside to train again. Almost 29,000 people have died of COVID-19 in Italy. Only 174 died on Sunday, the lowest total since the nationwide lock-down went in effect on March 9.

Not all players will be able to take part. Those who have been sheltering abroad will be required to stay in isolation for 14 days after arriving in Italy.

Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo has been on the Portuguese island of Madeira, where he was born and raised, but his return was delayed because his private jet -- a Gulfstream G650 that cost $65 million -- was stranded in Madrid due to Spanish travel restrictions.

Government position. Sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora says players won't be allowed to begin training in groups before May 18.

“I’ve read strange things," he said, "but nothing has changed compared to what I have always said about football, training in groups will not resume before May 18 and now is not the time to start talking about restarting the league."

Last week, Spadafora said the chances of restarting were "increasingly narrow." On Sunday, in confirming that clubs could open their doors for players to train, he said his first priority was getting sports facilities open -- gyms and swimming pools -- so citizens could resume physical activity.

Finances. Italian federation (FIGC) president president Gabriele Gravina has estimated that Italian soccer would lose up to 800 million euros ($870 million) if the season was cancelled and it would be "the death of Italian football."

But Serie A chief Paolo Dal Pino said the league "will rigorously comply" with any decision made by the government. It's Serie A's hope that if the season is indeed canceled the government will facilitate some form of financial support.

Standings:
1. Juventus 63 points (26 games)
2. Lazio 62 points (26 games)
3. Inter Milan 54 points (25 games)

La Liga. On Monday, La Liga clubs will welcome back players, who will be allowed to train on their own at club facilities in a manner similar to that MLS players will be allowed to do, beginning on Wednesday.

Before they returned, players were tested for the coronavirus in a plan approved by the Spanish sports ministry. Only later will they be allowed to train in groups and then as a team.

Spain, Europe's third worst-hit country after Italy and the United Kingdom with more than 25,000 deaths, only just started relaxing Europe's strictest lock-down rules, allowing adults this weekend to take walks a kilometer from their homes twice a day.

Government position. Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez said he hopes La Liga will return "soon" and it will be up to the Spanish federation and La Liga to decide if and when play can resume after restrictions are eased.

Spanish health minister Salvador Illa has said he doesn't expect soccer will return any time soon.

“It would be reckless for me to say now that professional football will be back before the summer,” Illa said. “We will continue to monitor the evolution [of the virus] and the guidelines we will present will indicate how different activities can return to a new normalcy.”

Finances. Javier Tebas has warned league clubs could lose 1 billion euros ($1.09 billion) if the rest of La Liga season -- 11 games -- and the remaining games in the two UEFA club competitions are canceled. He added that even finishing the season behind closed doors will cost them 300 million euros ($327 million).

Standings:
1. Barcelona 58 points (27 games)
2. Real Madrid 56 points (27 games)
3. Sevilla 47 points (27 games)

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