LaLiga: 'Fans will most likely be back in stadium next season,' says league's India head Jose Antonio Cachaza
Ahead of the restart, LaLiga India Managing Director Jose Antonio Cachaza speaks about league's commitment to finish the current season, the safety measures undertaken, playing without fans, the challenges with regard to starting next season among other topics.
LaLiga is finally set to return after a break of three months due to the global COVID-19 crisis. The season will kick-off again with the Matchday 28 clash between Sevilla FC and Real Betis, a match known as El Gran Derbi and it is the first of the 110 matches that are left to play in this campaign.
The league season will continue uninterrupted for the following six weeks until 19 July, provided the pandemic situation in Spain and health authorities permitting.
The league table shows FC Barcelona and Real Madrid are vying for the title, and they are separated by just two points. The same gap also exists between the third to sixth-placed teams who are fighting for the rest of the European spots.
In the relegation battle, a total of six teams are in the mix with Mallorca, Leganes and Espanyol sitting in the bottom three places respectively.
Ahead of the restart, LaLiga India Managing Director Jose Antonio Cachaza had an interaction with Indian journalists on Monday. He spoke about league's commitment to finish the current season, the safety measures undertaken, playing without fans, the challenges with regard to starting next season among other topics.
When can LaLiga expect fans to be back in the stadium?
First of all, the whole country has to be in the same situation. Right now, some regions allow more movement to take place than others. The conditions have to be uniform in every stadium. I cannot give you an answer. Maybe it can be July but most likely the fans will enter stadiums next season, in September. We have to depend on the health authorities.
So a total of 110 matches are remaining in this season. Are all stadiums match ready or are there any exceptions?
There are two exceptions. Levante will not play their home matches at their stadium because of the rebuilding process. They will play in another small city in Valencia. Real Madrid will play their remaining six home matches at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium, where usually their B team plays. Again, this is because the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium is undergoing renovation. They had the plans to rebuild the stadium in summer so they are doing it. Fortunately, they have a second stadium.
Can you elaborate on the challenges the league will face when the next season starts?
As Javier Tebas, the president of LaLiga had already said, the plan is to start the new season on 12 September. As you might know, UEFA is planning to conduct and finish the Champions League and Europa League in August. I don't think anybody can tell about the safety protocols in September because things will keep evolving. It's not just Mr Tebas and the 300 odd workers of LaLiga, the Spanish football federation along with the government and health authorities are also working together. Worst case scenario, and I hope not, we will have to start the league without public. Quite probably in September, some fans will be allowed inside the stadium but it will not be full. It's very difficult to say.
Bundesliga players have come up with anti-racism protests during matches after the killing of George Floyd in the US. What's your take and will LaLiga take any action if such protests happen in the league?
In LaLiga, everybody is in for integration. Football is about integration, it is about friendship and it is about a union. LaLiga, just like any other football organisation, is against racism or any kind of discrimination. In Bundesliga, the players were booked by the referees and FIFA said the players who are booked shouldn't face any further punishments. LaLiga doesn't sanction players. It comes from referees, committees and football associations.
LaLiga will use virtual images of stands in television broadcasts with fan audio to enrich the viewer's experience. While there's support for this move, we have also seen opposition from certain quarters. Your take on this issue?
In the last 5-6 years, LaLiga has invested a lot, I mean not in terms of only money, but in also thinking and brainstorming in being ahead of the pack when it comes to technological advancements. This is as per our overall strategy of being different. We want to be the best league on the pitch, as we are already. We want to be the first in the market and want to work differently, and this move is a result of that. We want to offer fans the alternatives, different experiences to live the game.
Can you give us more details about the COVID-19 testing situation in the league? Will the players and staff regularly be tested?
We already did the PCR and the antibody tests on the players before they resumed their training and we did another test in phase two. Yes, the plan is to do regular testing during the competition. The tests will not be limited to only players and staff, but everybody in the stadium will be tested.
Due to the lack of coherent screening program in India, we still diagnose a significant proportion of cases in the later stages of the disease.
Maharashtra's case recovery rate now stands at 97.53 percent while the fatality rate is 2.12 percent. The number of coronavirus tests conducted in the state climbed to 6,22,02,811
Barca have now lost a fourth consecutive Clasico for the first time since 1965 and drop to ninth in LaLiga, five points behind Madrid, who trail Real Sociedad by one.