The Iranian health ministry has announced the possibility of restarting the Iran Professional Football (Soccer) League in late June, as the government plans to ease the coronavirus lockdown.
“On Monday, we held a meeting with a deputy minister of sports and Mehrzad Khalilian, the head of the Sports Medicine Federation, and discussed the situation and practices of the organizers of La Liga [Spain], Serie A [Italy], and Bundesliga [Germany]. With nine weeks remaining, we can finish the current season in six weeks. The teams will have three weeks to prepare for the competition,” Iranian Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said on May 12, according to the Tasnim news agency.
He added that “the season would resume under the terms of a strict health protocol. The matches will be held behind closed doors but we will see a real football onto the field. Players must also avoid goal celebrations”.
Iran’s Health Ministry and Sports Ministry have already approved the initial protocols, but the football federation will make a final decision about the resumption.
Iran Football League Organization also plans to test players and staff for a virus infection on a regular basis. The players and staff must undergo testing in the Iran Football Medical Assessment and Research Center every matchday week and if the results come back negative for COVID-19, they will be allowed to take part in the matches.
Football leagues have canceled matches and training globally one after another due to the Covid-19 outbreak since the mid-March. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) had already postponed all soccer games and competitions scheduled for May and June.
The ban on sports activities has been extended several times during the coronavirus lockdown.
In an announcement made by the Iranian Committee of Coronavirus Combat and Prevention Headquarters on April 14, all sports activities are postponed in Iran until May 20.
The Iranian health ministry announced on May 13 that 89,428 people out of a total of 112,725 infected with COVID-19 have recovered, while 6,783 have lost their lives. Over the last 24 hours, 50 people in Iran have died from the virus.
“In most parts of the country, the coronavirus epidemic has gone beyond the management phase to the control phase, and in many areas, it has reached the containment phase, but we urge people to follow the protocols," Iranian Minister of Health, Treatment and Medical Education Saeed Namaki said on Tuesday, adding that "we have reached a better situation in the whole country”.
All schools in Iran will also reopen as of May 16, after almost three months of closure in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.