Dubai: Cristiano Ronaldo, the footballing icon now with Juventus, returned to Italy after being locked down in his native Portugal for almost two months amid coronavirus pandemic. He will now have to be in mandatory home quarantine for two weeks before getting back to business.
This news brought about more than a glimmer of Europe about the sport resuming sometime next month as players from La Liga Santander and La Liga SmartBank - the first and second divisions of professional football in Spain - are scheduled to start training alone following medical tests carried out by club staff.
While Italy and Spain - two of the hardest hit countries in Europe with the virus attack - are yet to put a date to completion of their respective leagues, Germany appeared well-prepared as their health minister backed the Bundesliga's plan to resume in 10 days time with final approval on the league's return due on Wednesday.
As per media reports in Italy, Ronaldo landed in Turin airport late last night in his private jet from the Portuguese island of Madeira. The 35-year old will now spend two weeks in quarantine.
Serie A sides have returned to individual training on Monday with Juventus recalling their 10 overseas players.
It is hoped that Serie A fixtures could resume between May 27 and June 2 - with an end date for the season of early August. However, no formal date has been announced for the resumption of the league, even before empty stands.
Italy was the first European country to be hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and Serie A has been suspended since March 9. Juventus are currently at the top and every team has at least 12 games left to play.
Ronaldo was part of Juventus’s last Serie A game, a 2-0 victory over Inter Milan behind closed doors at the Allianz Stadium on March 8.
The former Real Madrid and Manchester United forward returned to Madeira after the Inter match to be by her mother Dolores’ side as she had suffered a stroke.
Basic training was allowed to resume in Spain on Monday after the government watered down some of the lockdown measures that had been imposed since mid-March.
This return to training has been planned by La Liga with measures that have been agreed with the relevant sports and health authorities in order to guarantee as much safety as possible for the health of all those involved.
These measures cover a period of approximately four weeks with different phases that, in any case, will be subject to the de-escalation process established by the government.
“This crisis has had a profound impact on all of us. The return of football is a sign that society is progressing towards the new normal. It will also bring back an element of life that people in Spain and around the world know and love,” said Javier Tebas, President of LaLiga.
“People’s health is paramount, so we have a comprehensive protocol to safeguard the health of everyone involved as we work to restart LaLiga. Circumstances are unprecedented, but we hope to start playing again in June and finish our 19/20 season this summer.”
"The (football league's) basic concept makes sense and could serve as a model for other professional sports. But we have to see how it goes," Jens Spahn, Germany's health minister, told radio station Deutschlandfunk on Tuesday.
The German Football League (DFL) hopes to get the go-ahead on Wednesday to restart the season from May 15 when Chancellor Angela Merkel's meets the 16 state leaders via a conference call.
There were a few last-minute worrying notes though when on Monday, testing of players, coaches and backroom staff produced 10 positive cases, three of which came from top-flight side Cologne.