All league teams cleared to start group training in Spain

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In this photo provided by FC Barcelona, Barcelona's Gerard Pique runs with the ball during a training session in Barcelona, Spain on Friday May 8, 2020. Soccer players in Spain returned to train for the first time since the country entered a lockdown nearly two months ago because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Miguel Ruiz/FC Barcelona via AP)

MADRID – All Spanish league clubs can begin group training sessions this week despite stricter lockdown restrictions remaining in place in parts of Spain because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cities like Madrid and Barcelona have not been allowed to loosen confinement measures like most of the country has done but teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona have been given the go-ahead to move into the second phase of training.

The league has told clubs that on Monday all players can start small group sessions regardless of the lockdown phase in their regions. Players had only been allowed to train individually across Spain until now.

The Spanish government has been gradually easing lockdown restrictions that had been in place since mid-March because of the pandemic, with different levels of clearances from region to region. Teams in Madrid and Barcelona theoretically would not be allowed to start training in groups if the government hadn’t created exceptions.

“It's a good thing because it allows all teams to practice in a similar way,” Spanish league president Javier Tebas told league broadcaster Movistar on Sunday. “It's important for all the teams to be able to start on an equal footing.”

Teams in regions with tighter restrictions will be allowed to practice with 10 players in the same session, while clubs in areas with fewer restrictions can use up to 14 players. Teams in the latter regions also can make greater use of their facilities, reaching up to 50% of their capacity. The rest of the clubs can only use up to 30% of the facilities.

Group meetings between players and the coaching staff are also now allowed in some regions if distancing guidelines remain in place, and referees are now being allowed to train in sports facilities.

The next training phase will allow for clubs to start full squad sessions.