The Spanish league took another step toward restarting the soccer season by allowing teams to resume group training on Monday.
Practice sessions were closer to routine as players were allowed to work in groups for the first time since the league was suspended in mid-March because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Keep-aways, exchanges of passes and player interaction were back at the training camps as the league has allowed up to 10 players to practice together in what is expected to be the second-to-last phase before the competition can resume.
The move by Spain comes after the Bundesliga in Germany became the first top soccer league to resume over the weekend.
Full squad training is expected to begin in the coming weeks, with the league hoping to restart on the second weekend of June. Players had been training individually since last week.
The league said the start of group training represented ``a significant step forward on the road towards restarting professional football in Spain.''
The Spanish government this weekend authorized all teams to resume practicing in groups even though stricter lockdown restrictions remained in place in parts of Spain. Cities like Madrid and Barcelona have not been allowed to loosen confinement measures like most of the country, but teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona have been given the go-ahead to move into the second phase of training.
The league limited the practice groups to 10 players even though the government said those in regions where more restrictions have been lifted could use 14 players.
``It will be good to be able to set all training routines on an equal footing,'' Spanish league president Javier Tebas told league broadcaster Movistar late Sunday. ``It's very important that every club have the same chance to be in good shape.''
Clubs and players have been asked to follow strict health safety guidelines during training, and all training camps are being constantly disinfected. Players, club employees and everyone else involved in the practice sessions have to be tested daily for COVID-19.
Tebas said he expects the Spanish league's eventual return to competition to look very similar to what happened in Germany.
``We have congratulated the Bundesliga,'' Tebas said. ``They put in a lot of effort into this. It's an example to follow.''
Tebas said he hoped for the Spanish league to resume on June 12, with games in empty stadiums, but reiterated that it will be up to local authorities to decide when it can actually restart.
Among the players back to training on Monday was Fali Gimenez, a defender from second-division club Cadiz who had yet to practice because of concerns about the coronavirus. He joined his teammates after testing negative for the virus.
Players from first-division club Eibar also were in action this week after earlier having said they were afraid of practicing and training during the pandemic. They had already trained individually last week.
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