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Spanish soccer league hopes to resume play June 12

The announcement comes on the day the league announces five more positive coronavirus tests in its top two divisions.

MADRID — The Spanish soccer league is not changing its plan to resume games after five players from clubs in the first and second divisions tested positive for the coronavirus, with president Javier Tebas saying Sunday he hopes they can restart June 12.

Tebas said that if that restart date depends on decisions by local authorities.

“We would like to start on June 12, but it will depend on a lot of things,” Tebas said in an interview late Sunday with league broadcaster Movistar. “If we all continue to comply with the health safety measures, I don’t think we will have any problems.”

The league confirmed the positive tests Sunday but said it was not going to alter the practice protocol that got underway last week. Players from most clubs began individual training sessions Friday after nearly two months of confinement because of the pandemic.

The league said it would “continue to apply the back-to-training protocol” that was approved by government authorities to “guarantee the maximum safety of all players, coaches and club employees.”

Tebas noted what he called the “very low” number of positive cases and said it would be virtually impossible for the virus to spread during games because everyone involved would have been tested ahead of time.

“The matches are where there will be less risk,” Tebas said.

The league did not name the players who tested positive or their teams, but Real Betis goalkeeper Joel Robles said he was among them. Spanish media said two other players were from first-division clubs, one of them Atletico Madrid defender Renan Lodi.

Atletico on Saturday posted a message on an official club social media channel with a picture of Lodi and the message: “Renan Lodi says hello from his home. We will see you very soon on the field, Renan!”

He did not practice as the rest of Atletico players resumed their activities Saturday.

The five players who tested positive will remain sidelined until they recover. All are without symptoms and recovering, the league said. They will be allowed to resume practicing after testing negative in two consecutive tests.

All other players tested negative, and the league said only three staff members of clubs tested positive after nearly 2,500 total tests were conducted.

“This is good news for the football industry and for Spanish society as well,” Tebas said, adding the league had expected about 30 positive tests.

Players, coaches and club employees involved in the training sessions are being tested daily.

Barcelona was among the first teams to resume individual training Friday. Real Madrid is expected to be back in action Monday.

“Soccer is secondary right now,” Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said. “But it can serve as a distraction for the people who have been suffering.”

Tebas said he expects matches to be played every day after soccer resumes in Spain.

Barcelona captain Gerard Pique said he hopes to have more time for players to prepare.

“A few more days of practice would be good for us, especially because of the risk of injuries,” he said.

Spain last week started loosening some of the lockdown measures that had been in place since mid March because of the pandemic, allowing soccer players to resume training individually at the teams’ base camps.

The league sent clubs a detailed four-stage protocol for the return to practice. Individual training will be followed by smaller group sessions and then full squad sessions.

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