ROME (Reuters) - Sassuolo on Monday became the first Italian top-flight club to resume training following the coronavirus stoppage although it was still a long way from normality with only a handful of players running up and down empty pitches.
The Serie A club posted a video on Twitter showing players exercising individually, with each having half a pitch to himself. The club has limited the number of players who can train to six at a time divided into three pitches and says training is optional.
The government on Sunday gave players permission to start training individually on club premises but no team exercises will be allowed until May 18 and it is still far from certain that Serie A will be allowed to resume this season.
Italy, among the world's hardest-hit countries, started to relax the longest lockdown in Europe on Monday, allowing about 4.5 million people to return to work after nearly two months at home.
Sassuolo were involved in the last Serie A match to be played before the suspension when they beat Brescia 3-0 on March 9.
Other Serie A teams were expected to resume training over the course of the week.
Bologna and Atalanta have already confirmed that they will start training on Tuesday, while Inter Milan said they would open their training centre from this week with further details to be confirmed.
The Italian government will have the final say over whether the Serie A season can resume.
The main sticking point appears to be the medical protocol drawn up by the Italian football federation (FIGC) which sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora described last week as insufficient.
There are 12 rounds of matches still to play in Serie A plus a number of games from previous rounds. Title holders Juventus are one point clear of Lazio at the top.
(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris)