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No spiting! New football rules after COVID-19

From empty stadiums to yellow cards for spitting: New rules for football's return after coronavirus suspension

June 1, 2020 By Ali M.
The leagues are planning for their return but there will be several precautions in order to get back underway safely. Here's all you need to know.

Football has been on halt for some time now due to the coronavirus pandemic, with almost every league being suspended due to COVID-19 in a bid to contain its spread. While the virus has not yet been defeated, the major competitions are already planning for their return.

While not everyone agrees with the justifications, the reasons are obvious: the coronavirus has caused severe financial ramifications for every league and the participating clubs. As a result, the likes of the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, and many others have ruled out canceling the season as it could lead to several lawsuits from teams and broadcasters.

Momentum is growing for the return of football, with the Bundesliga looking to resume action first. Here's everything you need to know about when live football will get back underway.

NOTE: All of the dates mentioned below are subject to change as governments are continuing to assess the situation.

Which leagues have confirmed their return?

Premier League 

One of if not the most popular league in the world is yet to confirm a return date as the Premier League is suspended indefinitely. The government has reportedly held talks with the league and are in favor of getting games back on. This move was bolstered by the return to training for Arsenal, Brighton, West Ham, and Tottenham as they all opened their training facilities in the final week of April.

UPDATE: The Premier League will be making its return on June 17. They confirmed this provisional return date via their official website, with Man City vs Arsenal and Aston Villa vs Sheffield being the first two games.

The Bundesliga

The DFL, the organizers of the German top-flight and second division, announced that they are ready to resume action as early as May 9 as the Bundesliga looks to be the first major competition to return from the COVID-19 suspension.

"If we start on 9 May, we are ready. If it is later, we will be ready again," DFL chief executive Christian Seifert revealed.

"For us, what is decisive is what the politicians will decide. It is not for us to decide when.

Germany has been hailed as one of the countries with the best responses to the coronavirus but the decision regarding its return lies in the hands of the government. 

UPDATE: The Bundesliga will be making its return on May 16, the German top-flight announced. This came after the government gave the competition the green light to return in the 2nd half of May.

Serie A

Despite being one of the worst-hit countries, Italy's top-flight has been cleared to resume training as early as May 04. However, the Serie A players will have to train individually and will only be permitted to work out and practice in groups by May 18.

Here are the potential key dates for Italian clubs 

UPDATE: The Serie A will return on June 20, the country's sports minister has confirmed.

La Liga

The issue of their return remains up in the air. La Liga president Javier Tebas put forward three target dates -- 29 May, 7 June and 28 June – but there are tons of opposition. The country's health minister Salvador Illa stated the football might not return until the summer while the Spanish footballers' association (AFE) wrote to the government revealing the players' concern about resuming training despite the promise to test players for the coronavirus as a precaution.

UPDATE: La Liga will be returning on June 11 with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis, the Spanish government's department for sport (CDS) confirmed.

Ligue 1

Ligue 1 has been canceled. The French government has banned all sports, even behind closed doors, until September, all but ending the 2019/20 campaign.

Primeira Liga

As of now, there is little out there regarding the return of Liga NOS. Any confirmation will be announced in this article.

UPDATE: An official statement from Liga Portugal has revealed that the league will return on June 3. There are 10 more matches left to play

What regulations have been put forward to protect the players from coronavirus?

Several regulations have been circulating regarding the protection of players and staff should football return before coronavirus is officially beaten. There are two givens at this point: playing in empty stadiums and limiting Matchday staff president on the ground to the lowest number possible.

In the Bundesliga, there has been talk of allowing 300 fans into the stadium who will then be spread out in order to adhere with social distancing guidelines. Fake crowd noise could be implemented in empty stadiums but Borussia Monchengladbach fans have already gone ahead and printed out cardboard copies of themselves to take their seats in the stands.

Gladbach fans, we applaude you! 

Footballers could be forced to arrive separately in there kits and there have even been claims that they could be made to take and wash their own jerseys. Pre-game handshakes, huddles, and post-match press conferences would be cancelled altogether.

In the German top-flight, players arrive in their kit and leave in their kit straight after practice without taking a shower. The first-team squad have been practicing in small numbers and play a noncontact version of the game -- no tackles, no corner kicks, no small-sided games. Players, coaches, and staff are subject to testing -- this will likely be the case for other top leagues -- while only 213-98 people will be around "on or around the pitch". Grounds crew, medical staff, security team and broadcast technicians will be kept at the bare minimum.

Additionally, FIFA has suggested increasing the number of substitutes to seven. This is because teams are likely to face highly congested fixtures, which will raise the number of injuries. Additionally, players will not be permitted to speak to each other and could be cautioned with a yellow or even a red card if they spit on the field, a suggestion backed by FIFA council members.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB), the body that governs the laws of football, eventually accepted this suggestion from FIFA and permitted teams to make five substitutions per game to cope with the COVID-19 crisis. Despite this, teams will still have only three opportunities to make changes in order to avoid time wasting, meaning the five subs must be taken over three breaks in play.

If a tournament awards an additional substitution in extra time, clubs will also be given an extra substitution opportunity. IFAB has also given permission to league organizers to abandon VAR should their season restart. The decision whether to apply these alterations or not depends on the individual leagues. These interim changes have come into immediate effect but have only been mandated until December 2020.

Which leagues have been canceled or are rumored to cancel the season entirely?

Ligue 1

Ligue 1 has been cancelled. This is due to the decision made by the French government, banning all sporting events, both public and behind closed doors, until September.


After the Netherlands announced an extension of the ban of professional football until September, the Dutch FA was forced to cancel the 2019/20 Eredivisie season. The campaign was declared null and void, meaning league leaders Ajax were not awarded the title. Similarly, there will be no relegation/promotion.

Scottish Premiership

The Scottish Premiership, or the Ladbrokes Premiership, has been cancelled. The 2019/20 season has been ended prematurely after the SPFL and the clubs reached a unanimous decision. The league was determined on a points-per-game basis, with Celtic being crowned the champions and Hearts being relegated to the Ladbrokes Championship. The Ladbrokes Championship, Ladbrokes League One and Ladbrokes League Two suffered a similar fate.

Jupiler Pro League

Belgium's top-flight competition the Jupiler Pro League has also been cancelled. Runaway leaders Club Brugge were awarded the title. 

The latest news and rumors regarding the return of football

La Liga return date confirmed

Another European big-six league to confirm its return date is La Liga. The Spanish top-flight will be resuming on June 11, with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis getting things back underway.

Serie A to return on June 20, Coppa Italia on June 13

Football will be returning in Italy very soon. As confirmed by the government, the Serie A will resume on June 20 while the Coppa Italia will get back underway a week earlier on June 13.

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Football is finally coming back in Italy!

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Premier League return confirmed for June 17

It has been confirmed: the Premier League will be returning on June 17. The 2019/20 English top-flight season will be welcomed back by two games: Aston Villa vs Sheffield United and Man City vs Arsenal. 

NWSL announces 2020 Utah Challenge Cup 

The NWSL has announced the 2020 Utah Challenge Cup to welcome the return of football in the United States. This tournament will be a 25-game competition that will kick off on June 27, 2020. It will be streamed on the CBS All Access subscription service.

EPL clubs given permission to begin contact training

The Premier League has taken a huge step towards a return as they have given clubs permission to resume contact training. This is the key factor before the season can return.

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Football's coming home, it's coming home, it's coming! The English top-flight moves closer to a return!

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Liga NOS approves five substitutes for remainder of the season

The LFP has approved the use of five subs per game -- increased from the usual three -- for the remainder of the season. Additionally, the number of players on the bench will be increased from seven to nine to cope with the upcoming congested fixtures list.

La Liga to add fan noise to top-flight broadcasts

Bored by the lack of an atmosphere in the Bundesliga? If your answer is yes, then rejoice, as Mediapro's president revealed that La Liga will broadcast games with real fan noise recorded from previous games.

FA WSL 2019/20 season canceled

Both the Women's Super League and Women's Championship seasons have been canceled, the FA has announced. No decision has been made regarding the title and relegation/promotion race.

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#WomensFootball - It's over! The English FA has decided to end the @barclaysfawsl and FA Women's Championship due to the Coronavirus pandemic. _ Illustrative image via @barclaysfawsl

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EPL clubs pushing to delay return

According to reports, Premier League clubs are pushing to have the return of the top-flight delayed until June 26 at the earliest. They fear for the fitness of the players, who could suffer avoidable injuries due to the lack of preparation should things be rushed back.

Spain PM gives green light for La Liga to return on June 8

La Liga has taken a huge step towards a return, with the Spanish Prime Minister green lighting its return on June 08. It is believed that the Spanish top-flight is targeting a return on June 11.

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That's 12 days earlier than the anticipated date! Turn notifications on for daily football news updates. #LaLiga #COVID19

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Liga MX cancel 2019/20 season

Liga MX has unfortunately decided to cancel the 2019/20 season. As a result, no champions will be crowned this term.

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#COVID19 BREAKING NEWS: Coming right from #Mexico! Turn notifications on for daily football news updates.

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MLS cancel All-Star game, Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup

Major League Soccer has announced that the All-Star game, which was set to be a clash between the best of the MLS and Liga MX, has now been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Similarly, the Leagues Cup aand Campeones Cup have also been scrapped.

Six people test positive in the Premier League

The Premier League carried out testing in an attempt to return to action, confirming that from the 748 players and staff tested, six came back positive. The English top-flight refused to disclose the identity of those people. However, it has now come to light that a player and two staff at Watford alongside Burnley assistant manager Ian Woan are among the six.

Costa Rican top-flight to become first league to return in the Americas

Liga FPD, the Costa Rican top-flight, will be making its return on Wednesday, May 20. This makes them the first championship in the Americas to return from suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fans of this league can tune in to ESPN Deportes as they will be airing the matches live.

Scottish Premiership cancelled, Celtic declared the champions

The Scottish Premiership announced that after meeting with the 12 clubs, they reached a unanimous decision to cancel the season. The final table was decided on a points-per-game basis, with Celtic being crowned the champions and Hearts being relegated.

Serie A's hopes of returning rocked by disagreement

According to sources, Serie A squad training was set to resume on May 18 but this has not happened due to a disagreement after the league, players' association, and Association of Sports Medics rejected the government's coronavirus protocal. The Italian top-flight wants to isolate a player, and the squad, in the training ground in case of a positive result, meaning they will be quarantined but still training. The government is set to make a decision but the odds of football returning to Italy on June 12 is decreasing.

La Liga to begin training with groups of up to 10 players

After returning to individual training, La Liga is now set to hold sessions with groups of up to 10 players. This is the latest achievement by the Spanish top-flight as they look to ease into a return.

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Starting this Monday!

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Italian PM permits Serie A squad training on May 18

The Italian Prime Minister has given the green light to the Serie A to resume squad training on May 18. Prior to this, players were forced to do individual sessions in accordance with social distancing guidelines.

Russian Premier Liga to return on June 21

The Russian top-flight has announced when they will be back. Taking to Twitter, the Premier Liga revealed that things will get back underway on June 21.

Serie A targeting June 13 return

Serie A has announced that they are targeting a return on June 13. This, however, is a provisional date subject to government approval.

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That's exactly one month from now! #SerieA

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Primeira Liga to return on June 4

The Primeira Liga is the latest top European league to confirm a return date. The Portuguese top-flight announced that they will be making a return on June 4. Ten rounds remain in the their 2019/20 season.

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Step by step, football all around Europe is coming BACK!!! Any @fcporto, @slbenfica or @sportingclubedeportugal fan here?

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Austrian Bundesliga set to return in early June

The Austrian Bundesliga has set out a plan to get the season back underway in June. The president admitted that should they be able to return to full training on March 15, then the Austrian top-flight could return to action in the first week of June.

Danish Superliga confirms May return

Denmark's top-flight will be returning on May 28. This was confirmed via the Danish Superliga official website.

MLS reportedly considering quarantining all 26 clubs at Disney World in Orlando

Sources have told the Washington Post that the MLS has proposed quarantining over 1,000 people (players, coaches, staff, etc) at a big resort near Disney World in order to get the season back underway. This means practice and official games would all take place in Orlando.

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Are all 26 @mls clubs "going to @disney"?! Anonymous sources have told @washingtonpost that Major League Soccer has proposed to quarantine over 1,000 people (players, coaches, staff, etc) at a big resort near Disney World to finish the 2020 MLS season behind closed doors at the Disney Sports Complex and other locations. How does this sound? Cool or crazy?

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Premier League can return on June 1, government confirms

The Premier League could make its much-awaited return come June 1, the government has revealed. Authorities have given the green light to sporting and cultural events to resume no earlier than the aforementioned but will have to meet strict safety guidelines before things can get back underway in the English top-flight.

Lyon deny UCL clash with Juve is set for August 07

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas recently claimed that their Champions League 2nd leg round of 16 showdown has been scheduled for August 07 after being postponed indefinitely due to the ongoing pandemic. Lyon have now come out with an official statement denying this allegation from their own president, stating that they are still waiting on a date from UEFA.

La Liga confirm five positive tests but is targeting June 12 return nonetheless

Testing has been carried out in La Liga and it has now been confirmed that two players have tested positive. Nonetheless, Javier Tebas admitted that they are aiming for a return on June 12.

Calls to void the Premier League season increase as three Brighton players test positive

Project Restart is underway in the Premier League but calls for the season to be void have increased after three Brighton players tested positive for COVID-19.

Primera Liga's May 30 return plan under serious doubt after top-flight players test positive

Portugal's Primera Liga had been targeting a return on May 30. However, that plan is now under severe doubt after seven players tested positive for the coronavirus from four different clubs in the top division. 

Bundesliga to go ahead with May 16 return despite Dresden's coronavirus infection

Both the German top-flight and second division are set to resume on May 16, Bundesliga CEO Christian Seifert stated. This is despite the fact that the squad of 2. Bundesliga side Dynamo Dresden has been quarantined after two players tested positive for COVID-19. Many thought this would delay the return of football in Germany but that does not look to be the case.

IFAB permits five subs per game to handle coronavirus crisis

IFAB has made temporary rule changes, permitting clubs to make five substitutions per game once football returns from the coronavirus suspension. However, those five subs will be made over three breaks in play and it is up to the individual leagues whether they wish to adopt this interim alteration or not.

Bundesliga and La Liga confirm return dates

After being given permission to return this month, the Bundesliga announced that they will be resuming their season on May 16, with Dortmund vs Schalke being one of five simultaneous kick-offs welcoming back the competition. Elsewhere, the manager of Leganes revealed that La Liga will be returning on June 20 and that the plan is to wrap up the campaign by July 26.

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Only SIX more weeks to wait until @laliga resumes! Full story on our website. Turn notifications on for daily #FootballNews updates.

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Liga Iberdrola season canceled, Barcelona Femini crowned champions

Liga Iberdrola, the top-flight women's league in Spain, has officiallt been canceled. The 2019/20 has been ended prematurely due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the title being awarded to Barcelona Femini as they were top of the table when the competition was suspended.

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There were 9 more rounds to go, with @fcbfemeni being 9 points ahead of @atletifemenino. Fair or unfair decision to terminate the 2019/20 #LigaIberdrola this way?

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Super Lig confirms return date

The Turkish top-flight is currently suspended due to the coronavirus but Super Lig has revealed their return date. The competition organizers announced that they plan on getting the season back underway come June 12.


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It's official! It is understood that the Turkish FA's aim is to complete the 2019/20 Turkish Super Lig season in July and remain ready to host the UEFA Champions League final in August. Turn notifications on for daily #footballnews updates.

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Bundesliga given green light to return in May

German authorities have granted the Bundesliga permission to return to action in the 2nd half of May. This will make the German top-flight the first major European league to resume the 2019/20 season.

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WE CAN'T WAIT! The @bundesliga_en returns!! Green light given by the German government.

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Bundesliga set to resume on May 15 despite conflicting reports

According to Reuters, the German government is set to give the Bundesliga the green light to resume their campaign. This would make them the first major European league to return from the coronavirus suspension.

Despite this, there are conflicting reports claiming that the Bundesliga's plan to resume this month is under threat. This is because 10 players are said to have tested positive for COVID-19, raising health concerns.

MLS players allowed to voluntarily return to training

Major League Soccer has announced that players will be allowed to return to training voluntarily come May 6. Training sites can open up, should local authorities ease restrictions and permit this, but only individual workout can take place. Group training sessions will remain prohibited until May 16.

Premier League announce decision to complete the season

The Premier League has announced that they are committed to completing the current campaign despite the COVID-19 suspension. However, they stressed that the action will only return if government restrictions allow it.

US permits voluntary training for MLS players

MLS players will be able to return to training voluntarily come May 6. Footballers will be permitted to work out in outdoors facilities but will be required to follow governmental guidelines. 

Primeira Liga to resume at the end of May

The Portuguese government has given the Primeira Liga the green light to resume on May 30, which is a Saturday. As expected, games will be held behind closed doors.

Spain clubs given the green light to test their players for COVID-19

La Liga has received the green light from Spain's sports ministry for clubs to test their players for coronavirus before returning to training. The top flight looks to get things back underway, with the hope of having footballers back at the clubs in early May.

Swiss league to return on June  8

The Swiss government announced that the country's top-flight can return to action com June 08. Understandably, all matches will be held behind closed doors.

FIFA official casts doubt over Premier League's project restart

The Premier League is one of several top European leagues eager to return, with their plan to get back underway being titled "Project Restart". However, FIFA's chief medic has warned against resuming the season, insisting it could have "life and death consequences".

Bundesliga's May return picks up pace

The State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Labour has thrown his support for the Bundesliga's plan for a return in early May. The government official stated that should the German top-flight carry out the plan they are proposing, the safety of the players and coaches can be secured.

La Liga president hits out at French government over Ligue 1 cancellation

Javier Tebas, the president of La Liga, has criticized the French government's decision to ban football until September. He said:

"I do not understand why there would more danger in playing football behind closed doors, with all precautionary measures, than working on an assembly line, being on a fishing boat."

Premier League reportedly targeting June return

The Premier League is reportedly targeting a return in June, according to Sky Sports. The plan is to stage games behind closed doors but at the moment, nothing is concrete.

The EPL is eager to get back underway

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