Spain’s Soccer League May Resume Games in June After Virus

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Spain’s professional soccer league La Liga will be allowed to resume games next month after a halt of more than two months because of the coronavirus, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a Saturday briefing.

A possible date is June 12, an official of La Liga said in a text message on Saturday. Sanchez did not specify when the public will be allowed back into stadiums. The development is welcome news for Telefonica SA, which pays hundreds of millions of euros a year to La Liga to broadcast Spain’s top-flight competition.

Sanchez said games may resume as soon as June 8 with special safeguards, while confirming other measures to ease the lockdown and return to a “new normality.” Beginning on Monday, Madrid will join Barcelona and some parts of the Castilla y Leon region in moving into the so-called Phase 1 of the lockdown, which allows restaurants to offer outdoor seating to limited groups of people. Other regions will move to a more advanced phase, but citizens must remain vigilant even as the lockdown eases, he said.

“Until there is a vaccine or a treatment, victory still depends on each one of us,” Sanchez said. “A new outbreak is by no means impossible and we must remain cautious.”

Spanish clubs started training on May 18 with restrictions, including limiting groups to a maximum of 10 players, La Liga said previously. Clubs had played 27 match days when the league was halted on March 12. There are 11 match days left to play.

La Liga president Javier Tebas said on May 18 that playing the remaining matches shouldn’t be a problem.

Foreign Tourism

Foreign tourists will be allowed to visit Spain starting in July with safeguards, the premier said, without explaining what these measures will be. The tourism sector, key to the Spanish economy, has been among the most impacted by the nationwide confinement, but it is also the sector that benefited the most from government aid, Sanchez said.

Spain has been one of the countries worst hit by the novel coronavirus. A total of 234,824 people had been infected and 28,628 had died as of May 22, according to a daily report by Spain’s Ministry of Health.

— With assistance by Rodrigo Orihuela

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