Eibar have become the first La Liga side to publicly express concerns about the planned return to training, and have called for “responsibility” from league officials.
Clubs in Spain’s top two division are due to start individual training this week after testing for Covid-19 with matches behind closed doors planned for June. But in a strongly-worded joint statement, the Basque club have raised doubts about the plan.
“We are worried about starting an activity in which we will not be able to complete the first recommendation of all experts which is physical distance,” the players said in a statement given to radio station Cadena Ser.
“It worries us that by doing what we like most, we could get infected and infect our family and friends and even contribute to a new wave of the pandemic – with the terrible consequences that would have for the whole population.”
“The health of everyone should be the most important thing and now is the time to back this idea up with actions and not just words. We ask for guarantees and we demand responsibility,” the statement added.
La Liga responded by saying it was natural for players to be cautious about returning, but added it was taking appropriate measures to prevent the spread of the virus. “Of course we understand that people have various emotions, including fear,” said a league spokesperson.
“This is an unprecedented time. However, we are taking many precautions for a safe and controlled return of football. Playing football will be safer than, for example, going to the supermarket or pharmacy.”
As part of a four-step plan to restart the league, players will be given daily testing for the virus. Training centres are already being disinfected in preparation, and will be subject to strict conditions on hygiene once activity resumes,
Spanish football has been on hold since early March, when Eibar hosted Real Sociedad behind closed doors. The coronavirus has claimed more than 25,000 lives in Spain since February, but the spread of the disease has slowed as a result of one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe.
Eibar have the smallest stadium in the Spanish top flight, and one of the smallest budgets. Ever-present in La Liga since promotion in 2014, they are just two points and two places above the relegation zone.