Madrid (AFP) – Players and coaching staff of La Liga outfit Eibar said on Tuesday they are afraid that restarting competitive matches could contribute to a fresh outbreak of the coronavirus in Spain. 

In a statement released independently of the club, Eibar’s players and coaches said it would be impossible to physically distance themselves from each other, as recommended by the Spanish government. 

Eibar, who sit 16th in the table, are aware of the statement but have said they will still adhere to the timetable set out by La Liga for training and then matches to return. 

“We are afraid to start an activity where we will not be able to meet the first recommendation of all experts, which is physical distancing,” said Eibar’s players and coaching staff in a statement. 

“We are concerned that by doing what we love most, we could catch the virus, infect our family and friends, and even contribute to a new outbreak of the epidemic, with the terrible consequences that would have for the entire population. 

“The priority must be the health of everyone and it is time for that idea to prevail with facts, not just words. Only with that clear premise would it make sense to return to competition. We ask for guarantees. We demand responsibility.” 

Later, La Liga defended the move to restart the campaign.

“Of course we understand that people have various emotions, including fear. This is an unprecedented time,” it said in a statement.

“However, we are taking many precautions for a safe and controlled return of football. Playing football will be safer than, for example, going to the super market or pharmacy.”

Players in the Spanish top-flight are undergoing tests and working individually at training grounds this week as part of a plan to move gradually into groups, with the aim of resuming games behind closed doors in June. 

Spain has been one of the worst-hit countries in the world by the coronavirus pandemic. There have been 25,613 deaths in the country, according to the latest figures on Tuesday.

As part of the government’s de-escalation programme, adults were allowed outside to exercise last weekend for the first time in seven weeks.