Portuguese league could resume on May 30, says prime minister

LISBON: The final 10 rounds of Portugal's top flight Primeira Liga the football season could be played from May 30, Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced Thursday when the country begins to ease its COVID-19 blockade to start an economy in crisis.

Costa said the league will need permission from the Ministry of Health to get going again, and that matches will be played behind closed doors as he stated that individual sports such as golf and tennis could resume as of Monday.

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The league was suspended on March 12 with FC Porto defending champion Benfica by one point after 24 rounds in an exciting two-horse title race.

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Porto, runner-up last season, has 60 points, one more than his Lisbon-based rivals, with Sporting Braga in a distant third with 46.

Portugal would be one of the first major European leagues to resume action amid the COVID-19 pandemic, with France and the Netherlands having already canceled their seasons.

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Initially, Belgium announced that it would do the same, although that decision has yet to be ratified by the clubs and a final vote will be taken on Monday, while they wait for more clarity on a possible relaxation of the closing rules.

Portugal has reported 25,045 coronavirus cases and 989 deaths, a relatively low figure backed by one of the highest test rates in the world at 37,000 per million people.

The country's health system has remained below 65% of hospital bed capacity throughout the pandemic, with nine out of 10 cases treated at home and only 1% needing intensive care.

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