BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — The Spanish soccer federation is open to accepting a larger second division for next season as a possible solution to the chaos caused by the coronavirus pandemic in determining the final standings.
The federation has told the Spanish league and the government’s sports authority in a letter that it would accept the addition of two more teams. That would give the second tier 24 teams for one season only as an exceptional measure to the unprecedented situation.
The resolution of Spain’s second division has been left in limbo for the last two weeks since a coronavirus outbreak was detected on Fuenlabrada’s team hours before it was set to play at Deportivo La Coruna on the final round of the season.
After seeing the outbreak spread among Fuenlabrada’s team and staff, the league decided to cancel the match.
But a judge overruled that decision, saying that the game could still be played.
Fuenlabrada, which has 13 players and staff members isolated in a hotel in La Coruña, is still hoping to play the match. The Madrid-based club needs a draw to earn the point to make the promotion playoffs.
Fuenlabrada was back to training in Madrid with the available team members on Saturday.
“The club is waiting for the indications from authorities and prepared to play the match when we are told,” the club said in a statement.
The federation said in the letter that it would consider it appropriate for Deportivo and Numancia to be saved from relegation since they both entered the final round with chances of staying up.
That, however, did not sit well with Racing and Extremadura, which entered the last rounds already mathematically demoted to the third tier. Both have clamored to also be included in an even larger, 26-team competition for next season.
Nor is Elche happy with the other possible scenarios. Elche currently occupies the last promotion playoff spot that Fuenlabrada could take if its match against Deportivo went ahead.
“We want to express our strongest concerns that, after having scrupulously complied with all the health regulations, we could end up being the team that is most harmed,” Elche said in a statement on Saturday.
Time is running out to resolve the conundrum before the next season starts in September. The promotion playoff involves four teams to determine the last of the three teams that go up.
Further complicating matters, players on two teams set to play in the playoffs, Zaragoza and Almería, have also tested positive.
The turmoil has also spread to playoffs to win promotion to the third tier. The federation also announced Saturday that it had suspended the playoff matches to be held this weekend after positive cases were detected in one of the teams.
The Spanish league’s first division finished without glitches last month, with Real Madrid winning the title.
The league had protocols for the return of training and the resumption of competition following a four-month stoppage. It was the second top league to resume, after the German Bundesliga.
Spain has been one of the hardest-hit countries by the coronavirus pandemic.