Swiss teams stay at home despite the end of training restrictions

Reuters , Monday 11 May 2020

Switzerland's professional soccer teams were allowed to train for the first time since the coronavirus stoppage on Monday but most preferred to stay at home amid uncertainty over whether the league would resume and concerns from the players' union.

Top flight St Gallen 1879 and second division Grasshoppers Zurich were the only teams among the 20 in the top two divisions to confirm that they had held training sessions.

While leagues in countries such as Germany, Poland, Hungary and Portugal were quick to announce restarts after getting authorisation from their governments, the Swiss Super League and second-tier Challenge league have been less keen.

The Swiss parliament ruled on April 30 that the top two divisions could restart from June 8 but the Swiss Football League (SFL) said on Thursday the resumption depended on the outcome of talks with the federal government on aid for its stricken clubs.

"Such financial assistance is a pre-requisite for averting a situation that threatens the very existence of Swiss professional football and allowing the game to resume," it said.

The SFL is due to make a decision at an assembly on May 29 and said the league was unlikely to resume before June 20.

Of the other top-flight clubs, FC Basel, Young Boys Bern and FC Lugano had already said they would wait until May 18, with FC Thun and Lucerne starting on May 25 and FC Zurich on on May 28.

"Since the restart of the championship was accordingly scheduled for June 20/21, the first team will have sufficient time in advance to prepare optimally for the restart," said FC Zurich president Ancillo Canepa.

FC Sion, Servette Geneva and Neuchatel Xamax have yet to announce any dates.

Some clubs have made use of the Kurzarbeit scheme where employees get 80% of their wages from the government but they will no longer be eligible for this once they start training.

The Swiss Player' Union has complained that it has not yet seen the medical guidelines its members will have to follow once play starts.

Last week it said 63.9% of members who took part in a survey said they wanted the championship called off and 76% were against the idea of their teams being quarantined for one month or more -- a possible condition for the resumption of play.

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