Coronavirus crisis: La Liga suspended indefinitely

La Liga, following a meeting with the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), has announced the indefinite suspension of professional football in Spain because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The league said in a statement on Monday that it would not resume until the Spanish government says it is safe to do so.

“The Monitoring Commission established by the current RFEF-La Liga Coordination Agreement AGREES [to] the suspension of professional football competitions until the authorities of the Government of Spain and the General Administration of the State consider that they can be resumed without creating any health risk,” a statement read.

“Both the RFEF and La Liga wish to express our greatest public gratitude to all those who are dedicating their best efforts to provide essential services to the Spanish people and also share our condolences for all the deceased and a warm embrace from the world of soccer to the many families that are losing loved ones.”

Spain’s top flight was initially postponed for two game weeks on March 12, with previous plans to play matches behind closed doors scrapped as the coronavirus crisis in the country worsened.

Things have not improved since then, with Spain struggling to deal with the spread of the virus. The latest figures made available on Monday revealed that there are approaching 30,000 cases in the country and nearly 2,000 confirmed deaths.

Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez announced over the weekend that the country would remain under strict lockdown measures until at least April 11, making it impossible for football to resume in the near future.

La Liga president Javier Tebas has floated the middle of May as a potential start date, but league sources told ESPN they don’t want to name any dates until the situation in Spain improves.

Several La Liga clubs have been affected by coronavirus. Valencia — who in February played in Milan, one of the cities at the centre of Italy’s outbreak — said that 35% of the first-team players and staff had contracted the virus.

Elsewhere, Alaves have confirmed 15 cases among players and staff, while Barcelona-based Espanyol have said there are six cases at the club (four players and two members of staff).

Real Madrid players were placed in isolation earlier this month when a basketball player at the club tested positive. The club’s former president, Lorenzo Sanz, died over the weekend after contracting the coronavirus.

With all football stopped for the foreseeable future, including European competitions, Spanish clubs are worried about how the pandemic will affect their finances.

Even Barcelona, one of the league’s biggest clubs, fear there could be huge repercussions. The Catalan club are even considering asking players to take a temporary wage cut, sources told ESPN last week.

Around Europe, there remains uncertainty about when football will resume.

Serie A in Italy, the country where there have been the most deaths from the coronavirus, is suspended until April 3, but there is no expectation that the league will resume any time soon. Brescia president Massimo Cellino has even said the season should be cancelled and referred to the virus as a “plague.”

In England, the football shutdown has been extended until April 30 at the earliest.

The French league plan to meet this week to discuss its next steps after President Emmanuel Macron addresses the nation on Monday.

UEFA has already confirmed the postponement of this summer’s European Championship until next year in a bid to give domestic leagues more time to finish their campaigns. They also hope to complete the Champions League and the Europa League later in the summer.

The Copa America, like Euro 2020, has also been delayed by a year as football and sporting events continue to be cancelled, postponed and rescheduled across the world.

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