MADRID • Spain’s La Liga will use a video analysis programme to help it determine if a player is likely to have infected a teammate or opponent if they test positive for the coronavirus once the season re-starts, according to a draft protocol drawn up by the league.
The protocol, seen by Reuters, was sent out to clubs in Spain’s top two divisions earlier this week. It is an updated version of the document clubs received earlier.
La Liga teams have begun training in groups of up to 10 players, while league president Javier Tebas has said he hopes the season can resume from June 12. The Spaniard has been adamant that the league’s safety measures means the chance of a player being infected during a game is “practically zero”.
If a player tests positive for Covid-19 after a game, they will be put into quarantine while the facility they are staying in will be deep cleaned and disinfected, according to the protocol.
Anyone in his personal circle who has had recent contact with the player will be scrutinised, while analysts will use the programme Mediacoach to identify other players he has been in contact with.
Any player in close contact with the infected player for more than five minutes will be tested, as studies suggest the risk of infection increases when a person is in contact with someone for over 15 minutes.
The proprietary video motion analysis pulls the feed from 16 cameras installed around the pitch and is normally used to carry out a post-match review of player movement.
On top of on-pitch safety measures, players and officials will be tested 24 hours before each match and have their temperature taken when arriving at the stadium.
Balls will be distributed around the perimeter of the pitch and will be disinfected constantly.
Players also have to disinfect their hands before and after the warm-up session, while all players and coaching staff must wear masks and gloves upon arrival.
The customary pre-match handshakes have been prohibited and all post-match news conferences are to be held via video link.
Ensuring the safety of players, coaches and all vested parties is the biggest hurdle La Liga needs to get over in order to get the season – on ice since March 12 – up and running again. Another issue the league needs to contend with would be a potential fixture pile-up.
There are 11 rounds left and the aim is for the domestic campaign to finish before Uefa competitions ideally start in August.
To help facilitate this, Tebas intends to bring back “Monday night football” – a staple in England but something the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and local fans have been opposed to as the time slot falls on a working weekday.
But a common desire to complete the term and avoid potentially catastrophic losses of €1 billion (S$1.55 billion) has meant RFEF president Luis Rubiales is ready to soften his stance as a goodwill gesture in the national interest.
Italy’s Serie A is even further behind La Liga as its footballers have yet to start limited group training and while they have finally been given permission to do so, sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora has set a May 28 D-Day to decide if the league can recommence.
Confirming government scientists had accepted the Italian Football Federation’s revised health protocol, including removing the need for an entire team to undergo a two-week isolation if one player tests positive, he said: “We will then decide if and when Serie A will restart.
“The important thing will be to restart with the firm intention of completing the championship, then the federations will decide the modalities and formats to adopt.”
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS