Real Sociedad present us with a dilemma

Real Sociedad had hoped to open their training ground in Zubieta this week to allow the players the chance to do some jogging out in the open air – maintaining their distances and with all due precautions. All of the players were in agreement about it which is understandable – not all players have large gardens – as we have seen for ourselves from the videos they have been posting on social media during the coronavirus crisis. Many of them live in apartments, maybe a little larger than the average but flats nevertheless. The idea was consensual – they would make their own way to the training ground in their own cars, already dressed in their training clothes and would shower once they were back home. There is nothing in the Royal Decree that prohibits that. It is simply going to a place of work as they have been doing and performing their job in the same space as, say, maintenance workers.

The Superior Sports Council has put a stop to Real Sociedad’s return to training, citing the Royal Decree, which only mentions closing such workplaces ‘to the public’. And they did so with extraordinary speed – especially compared to the condescending way they dealt with the Olympic sailing team in Santander. Real Sociedad had consulted the regional, autonomous police (Ertzaintza), who couldn’t see any problem. Ok, somebody could turn around and say, why are footballers allowed to do this while others aren’t? And that was how the CSD justified their decision, which they later turned back on. Other sportsmen and women could ask for the same conditions but there are no Olympic Games coming up – at least in the short term. But in football, there is a desire to finish the present season, if possible.

And of course, what you can never do is make the Royal Decree mean something which isn’t mentioned in it. If the idea of restarting LaLiga before the summer is considered a throwaway notion, because it will be the authorities, in other words the Health Ministry, who decides - but that isn’t the point here. It’s about facilitating the first steps towards its return, which is what other clubs, for instance Bayern Munich are doing. I don’t understand how bricklayers can be at the Bernabéu today, working on the new stadium while footballers can’t be taking turns in jogging around a practice pitch, keeping their distance and showering in their own homes – in Valdebebas or any other training ground. Other than [CSD president] Irene Lozano is disagreeing just for the sake of it.