Lionel Messi's €700million release clause "does not apply at all" as he seeks to leave Barcelona, his father says, although LaLiga reiterated the captain cannot walk away as a free agent.

Messi last week informed Barca he wants to move on after an 2019-20 season in which they failed to win a trophy and were hammered 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League.

Manchester City quickly emerged as suitors for the six-time Ballon d'Or winner but are reportedly only interested in a free transfer.

Messi believed an agreement in his contract meant he could leave Camp Nou at the end of the campaign without the astronomical release clause being paid.

But with the season delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Blaugrana maintained that option has expired, and LaLiga last week said the clause would still need to be paid in full.

Jorge Messi, the Argentina forward's father and representative, responded to LaLiga's statement on Friday, however, just a day after he had acknowledged his son might stay at Barca.

He claimed the contract showed there was "an obvious error" in LaLiga's analysis.

Jorge Messi wrote to president Javier Tebas: "We do not know which contract you have analysed, and what are the bases on which you conclude that the 'termination clause' is not applicable if the player urges the unilateral termination of it with effect from the completion of the 2019-20 sports season.

"This is due to an obvious error on your part."

Jorge quoted the relevant clause in Messi's contract, then added: "Without prejudice to other rights that are included in the contract and that you omit, it is obvious that the compensation of 700 million euros, provided for in the previous clause 8.2.3.5, does not apply at all."

According to his father, Messi's contract reads: "This compensation will not apply when the termination of the contract by unilateral decision of the player takes effect from the end of the 2019-2020 sports season."

LaLiga offered a swift response, saying his claims were "decontextualised and far from reality of the contract they signed", before referring back to its earlier statement.

Reports in Argentina on Friday shortly after Jorge Messi's letter emerged claimed the Barca captain would remain at the club for the coming season.

LaLiga has thanked second-tier Fuenlabrada for appearing to concede a possible promotion play-off place despite the club insisting they could yet contest their postponed final fixture against Deportivo La Coruna.

The season-ending Segunda Division encounter was called off shortly before its scheduled kick-off time last Monday after several Fuenlabrada players tested positive for coronavirus.

There are now 28 positive cases connected to the club and Fuenlabrada admitted in a statement on Sunday that "it is impossible to foresee when and under what conditions" the game could go ahead.

The statement suggested the Madrid outfit were willing to accept a permanent cancellation, an outcome that would resign them to an eighth-place finish and deny Jose Ramon Sandoval's charges the chance to compete in the four-team play-off for promotion to the top flight.

LaLiga responded by expressing its "absolute appreciation" for Fuenlabrada's "enormous sacrifice" and the league's president, Javier Tebas, publicly took responsibility for the awkward situation, tweeting: "FOOTBALL OWES YOU ONE."

But while LaLiga claimed it had communicated the "definitive suspension of the match" to the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), and that sixth-placed Elche would retain the final play-off spot, the matter appears far from finished.

Fuenlabrada released a follow-up statement clarifying their view that the match could still take place in early August, adding: "We understand that LaLiga is not the only competent body to make this decision.

"The decision is also in the hands of the RFEF Competition Committee and, where appropriate, the CSD [National Sports Council].

"Fuenlabrada is not considered out of the play-off and remains pending the resolution of the other competent bodies."

Depor, who like Fuenlabrada have played a game fewer than 20 other Segunda Division sides, will be closely monitoring the developments.

The former top-flight title winners hoped to avoid relegation with a final-day victory and have threatened legal action over a postponement that has left them in limbo.

Manchester City's success in appealing a two-year UEFA competition ban proves the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is no longer up to standard, according to LaLiga president Javier Tebas.

In February, the Premier League club were accused of committing "serious breaches" of UEFA's Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations. They were handed a two-season suspension from European tournaments and fined €30million.

But CAS ruled in City's favour on Monday following the club's appeal, meaning the 2018-19 Premier League champions will be able to compete in the Champions League next season, while their fine was reduced to €10m.

Tebas has long been a critic of City and Paris Saint-Germain, routinely accusing them of "ruining" football due to being funded by "petrol money" from the Middle East, suggesting in 2017 that such situations were "financial doping".

And following Monday's ruling, Tebas hit out at CAS and questioned whether they can still be trusted to judge on such matters.

He told reporters: "We have to reassess whether the CAS is the appropriate body to which to appeal institutional decisions in football.

"Switzerland is a country with a great history of arbitration, the CAS is not up to standard."

City CEO Khaldoon Al Mubarak has previously fired back at Tebas for his comments, urging the Spanish official to look back on the history of LaLiga and its domination by two clubs before casting judgement on other leagues.

LaLiga still hopes to have supporters back in stadiums before the end of the season, says president Javier Tebas.

Spain's top flight was returning on Thursday with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis following a three-month suspension caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The game, behind closed doors at Sevilla's Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium, came as Spain continues to adhere to social distancing measures amid the COVID-19 crisis.

However, Tebas – while ruling out stadiums operating at full capacity – remains optimistic venues will be able to allow some spectators through the doors before the campaign comes to a close.

Speaking to reporters, LaLiga chief Tebas said: "Of course it won't be the entire stadium and there will be special precautionary measures.

"If we can have even 10 per cent or 15 per cent by the end of the season, if that happens we will be very happy about that because that's a sign that we are getting back to some form of normality.

"When we celebrate will be when we actually finish the competitions, both the first division and the second division. This crisis still hasn't come to an end.

"The pandemic is on a sharp decline. The return to stadiums would have to be coordinated by the ministry for health and the Consejo Superior de Deportes [the Sports Council], and it is obviously not going to be the whole stadium."

He added: "It is important that fans start to return."

Tebas again stated the 2020-21 LaLiga campaign will start on September 12, which could cause issues for Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Getafe and Sevilla who are all still in European competitions that are due to be concluded in August.

"If we need to, we will adapt their fixture list, so that their games get played," Tebas added.

"They will start on September 19, September 26, it won't be easy [but] we will look for dates for them to [make up] those matches.

"You can't change things for 20 clubs to suit two; it is much better that those two adapt."

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has threatened to force teams into training camps if players continue to flout medical protocols.

Spain's top flight was due to resume on Thursday with the Seville derby between Sevilla and Real Betis at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, three months after playing was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Lockdown measures across the country have been eased in recent weeks, with life beginning to return to relative normality, but some protocols remain in place and a few players have broken them.

Four Sevilla players were photographed at a barbecue in a group of 12 people at a time when any gathering was supposed to be limited to 10, while Barcelona confirmed on Thursday that Nelson Semedo was missing from training "as per protocol established by LaLiga".

The Portugal defender was reported to have attended a party and broken social-distancing guidelines earlier in the week.

Tebas has now warned players that LaLiga will impose rules forcing them to work in training camps if they continue to ignore the regulations.

Speaking to reporters on a conference call, Tebas said: "What we are thinking is that if players keep doing this we'll have to consider having obligatory training camps.

"We wanted to do that but over the last few weeks we saw the clubs were obeying the protocols, but if we start to see three or four players at each club disobeying these rules then we'll have no other remedy than to impose training camps.

"We hope we don't have to but if people keep going to barbecues and parties we might have to. LaLiga has shown a lot of faith in players by not enforcing camps so, [we ask them] please, return that confidence, and don't break the rules as that harms LaLiga and people's health in general."

Walking through Seville's Nervion district on derby day at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan is an experience to behold.

Approaching the stadium from the north west, you stroll past a huge congregation of supporters waving flags, scarves and flares on Calle Luis de Morales right outside the Melia Lebreros – the hotel Sevilla players stay in before home games.

The street is blocked off for traffic at either end, the blue lights from the police's intimidating riot vans clearly visible above the crowds, and a reminder of the hostilities.

Hearing even louder chants, you head for an opening between a department store and a row of smaller shops – as soon as the corner is turned, everything begins to hit.

A seemingly endless sea of people appears in your path, the noise levels rise exponentially and a host of smells swarm you. The stench of police horses, alcohol and flare smoke are all prevalent as you attempt to squeeze through the thronged mass of 'Sevillistas' singing and chanting, setting off their fireworks as they jump around.

The approximate 250-metre walk to the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan's north stand takes an age such is size of the gathering, which is essentially a huge street party. It's a fitting atmosphere and spectacle for Spain's fiercest city rivalry.

Except, it will – or, at least, should – be rather different on Thursday, as Real Betis go to Sevilla in LaLiga's first match following the coronavirus-enforced suspension, the hosts looking to resume their push for a Champions League spot after three months.

With the contest to be played behind closed doors, El Gran Derbi will lose a significant part of what makes it special – the atmosphere and passion.

Although certain lockdown measures have been relaxed across Spain, fans won't be allowed to attend matches, and both clubs have urged supporters to stay away on Thursday.

More than 600 police officers will be stationed in Nervion, as local authorities attempt to prevent mass gatherings or trouble, while much of the surrounding areas will be completely cordoned off.

Such measures bely an expectation of uncontrollable excitement. Certainly, a glance at the social channels of the clubs and LaLiga itself paint a picture of immense enthusiasm.

But for many supporters there is a pre-match feeling of detachment, not because of the three-month hiatus, rather its billing as a 'derbi'.

This is one of the world's most famous city rivalries, a fixture that's steeped in history – Betis were formed due to a breakaway from Sevilla in the early 1900s and tensions have boiled practically ever since, the fiery passion of their supporters key to that, though not always in a positive sense.

But without them this is just a game between two squads made up of players from across the world.

Realistically, there will be no more than three players from either academy on the pitch; Jesus Navas, Joaquin and Antonio Barragan, the latter of whom is by no means a regular for Betis and originally comes from Galicia.

On-lookers might have mistaken social-distancing Betis ultras setting off green fireworks on the bank of the Guadalquivir river the other night as a sign of elation, but with them were two banners. One read 'this is our derby'; 'derby - fans = nothing' said the other.

But these feelings don't come from a perception that fans should be allowed in. If anything, there's a belief football shouldn't be being played at all, currently.

In the past few weeks, Sevilla's Biris Norte ultras have displayed banners of their own near the club's training ground that say, 'football doesn't return, your business returns' followed by LaLiga's logo.

There are those from both sides who have scoffed at LaLiga's choosing of this match to resume the season, given the disregard the league's president Javier Tebas and the two sets of supporters have for each other.

Tebas is unpopular at the best of times, but in Seville he finds even fewer admirers.

Fans from both teams have engaged in insulting chanting against the official down the years, and although he insists that doesn't bother him, his commitment to drive what LaLiga deems to be offensive songs from stadiums has seen Betis and Sevilla seemingly targeted in the past decade.

Angels they are not, but even the local press accuses Tebas and LaLiga of double standards.

In May 2015, after anti-Tebas chanting rang out from all corners of Betis' Benito Villamarin stadium, an El Desmarque story covered the latest. "So far this year, the Betis fans are one of the most persecuted in this regard," it read. "Rare is the week in which there are no reports of offensive chants in the Verdiblanco stadium, while in other grounds where these songs are also heard, they are not included in the [sanctions] statement made by LaLiga every week."

To some, Tebas' desire for the derby to kick-start the season feels like a slap in the face. Would he have chosen it if supporters were allowed in?

A cynical view, perhaps, and one can forgive Tebas for aiming to stoke intrigue after a three-month break that will have lasting financial implications for most clubs in LaLiga, and the league itself.

"It will be the most-watched [Seville] derby in history, not only in Spain, but in the rest of the world," Tebas told COPE on Sunday. "I understand that Sevilla-Betis is going to be a world event."

Tebas' assertion that the derby is "unique" is correct – few will argue that it isn't special.

But in front of empty stands, keeping the charm of 'El Gran Derbi' alive will be a difficult ask for the players on what promises to be a peculiar evening in Nervion.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas was left "concerned" after Sevilla players were found to have broken lockdown rules by having a social gathering on Saturday.

Ever Banega, Lucas Ocampos, Franco Vazquez and Luuk de Jong were seen congregating in a group of around 12 people in a since-deleted Instagram post uploaded by Banega's partner.

There is a maximum of 10 people permitted at gatherings in Seville, which remains in the early stages of Spain's easing of lockdown measures – though it is set to become the largest city to enter phase two on Monday.

All four players issued public apologies on Sunday, with Vazquez acknowledging they had "failed everyone" with their actions.

Tebas, who in the same interview confirmed LaLiga plans to resume on June 11 with Sevilla against Real Betis, stressed that those involved did express regret, but he felt it necessary to again remind footballers of their responsibilities.

 

"I am going to emphasise that the players have repented, which is positive," he said on Partidazo. "The players are an example for society and they must be careful with what they do.

"I appeal to all footballers; you cannot have this attitude. You have to be very careful because we jeopardise many jobs.

"At that gathering there could have been an asymptomatic [person with COVID-19], and it seemed that everyone smoked from a shisha pipe.

"You have to be responsible for everything you do. Security is total on the pitches where they train and in games, but I am concerned about these places and these meetings. We have to be very cautious."

Spain has had almost 283,000 confirmed cases of the virus and 28,752 deaths – only the United States, United Kingdom and Italy have reported more fatalities.

However, the daily death toll on Saturday was just 50.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas is hoping to resume the 2019-20 season on Thursday, June 11 with the Seville derby.

Spanish prime minister Pedro Sanchez confirmed on Saturday that LaLiga had been given permission to resume behind closed doors from June 8 following the coronavirus-enforced hiatus.

Previous reports had suggested the first match would be played on June 12, exactly three months after the suspension started, with Sevilla's home match against bitter rivals Real Betis said to be the chosen match.

And while Tebas confirmed the derby to be his desired fixture, he revealed on Sunday that he is hoping to resume a day earlier, with kick-off to be set at 22:00 local time due to the intense heat in Andalusia's capital.

Speaking on the Partidazo show, Tebas said: "There is the possibility that there will be a match on the 11th [of June], which would be a unique match, with a possible tribute for all the deceased.

"I wish that date could be confirmed. We would like it to be the Seville derby, at 10 at night.

"Our idea is to be able to confirm the [dates for the] first four matchdays this [coming] week.

"The hours will depend on where the game is played, it will always be taken into account. During the week, the schedules will be late. On weekends, there will be three schedules."

Despite Tebas revealing his plan, confirmation of the exact resumption date is to be announced in due course.

Lockdown measures in Spain have been eased gradually over the past few weeks after it was hit particularly badly by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been almost 283,000 confirmed cases of the virus in Spain and 28,752 deaths – only the United States, United Kingdom and Italy recorded more fatalities.

Javier Tebas said the return of LaLiga owed everything to a united effort to bring back football, after Spain's prime minister Pedro Sanchez gave the green light.

The Spanish government has said it will support the resumption of matches from the week beginning June 8.

LaLiga had targeted June 12 for its first games since the coronavirus crisis caused the season to be suspended in March.

Now all efforts can be directed towards making that happen, with games to be played behind closed doors.

LaLiga president Tebas wrote on Twitter: "We are very pleased with the decision, it's the result of great work by clubs, players, coaches... CSD [National Sports Council], agents, etc.

"But it's very important to follow the health regulations and to respect the evolution of the pandemic, we can't lower our guard."

Barcelona lead Real Madrid by two points in the battle for the title, with all teams having 11 matches remaining.

Javier Tebas is excited about LaLiga returning, but said it would only resume when cleared by health authorities amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Reports on Thursday said LaLiga would restart on June 12 with a derby clash between Real Betis and Sevilla.

While excited about a return, LaLiga president Tebas played down the speculation.

"The clubs, managers, players, referees … of @LaLiga, we are excited about the return," he wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

"But the competition will only start when the health authorities consider it possible … the coordination work with @deportegob, @rfef is and will be the key."

Barcelona held a two-point lead over Real Madrid when the season was suspended in March with 11 games left to play.

LaLiga clubs have returned to training in groups of up to 10 players.

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid were among the teams to post photos from the next phase of the Spanish top flight's attempted return early on Monday.

Following LaLiga's coronavirus hiatus, players were allowed to resume individual work from May 4 as the country began to de-escalate its lockdown measures.

Although strict guidelines are set to remain in place for Madrid and Catalonia over the coming weeks, the lockdown is being eased in many other regions of Spain.

And in accordance with government regulations and protocols, clubs are now able to resume group sessions at their training bases.

Initially teams will be required to work in groups of no more than 10 players, but they are still not permitted to use changing facilities and must arrive and leave individually.

The groups must work on different pitches, or at the very least in opposite halves.

LaLiga confirmed "group training may be carried out by all clubs, regardless of the de-escalation phase of the province in which they are located". Strict preventive and safety guidelines are in place.

"This is a significant step forward on the road towards restarting professional football in Spain, which has been on hold since March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic," read a statement from LaLiga.

The league's president, Javier Tebas, who is aiming for a June 12 restart, told Movistar's El Partidazo: "The start of the next phase in LaLiga's Return to Training protocol is another step towards the restarting of the competition. 

"It will be good to be able to set all training routines on an equal footing. It's very important that every club have the same chance to be in good shape.

"It's not essential, but it's very important and we're grateful that it will be like that."

Tebas hopes football can be played every day once LaLiga returns in order to finish the season, saying: "That is what I hope.

"We shouldn't have any problems playing on Mondays across the eleven rounds of matches we have left to play. I hope for some sense from the Royal Spanish Football Federation on this. 

"It's very important for us to be able to give both our national and international broadcasters, and fans across the world, football on as many days as possible to ensure as little disruption as possible."

He also welcomed the return of Bundesliga action at the weekend.

"I'm very happy, and I've congratulated them because they've taken a very important step," he said.

"We've worked hard on this together over the past months, we've exchanged protocols, ideas, we spoke once or twice every week. 

"I'm very proud of the Bundesliga. It wasn't easy; they were the first to get up and running and they're an example to follow."

LaLiga president Javier Tebas congratulated the Bundesliga on its return to action and for providing an example for others to follow.

Following a two-month hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Germany's top flight this weekend became the first major European league to resume.

All the games are being played behind closed doors, while most people not on the field wore masks and observed social-distancing protocols.

Spain has been among the countries hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak, with over 277,000 confirmed cases and more than 27,000 deaths.

Tebas was impressed by the work put in to get the Bundesliga back up and running and is pleased to have a blueprint to follow.

"I'm very pleased. I have congratulated the CEO of the Bundesliga," Tebas told El Partidazo.

"They have done a very important job and I am very proud. It is the example to follow."

Tebas will not have the final say on when LaLiga can resume and wants games to be played on Mondays, which fans have regularly protested against and Royal Spanish Football Federation president Luis Rubiales opposes.

"It will be determined by the health authorities. I want it to be as soon as possible. We are working for the resumption from June 12," Tebas said.

"I hope it is also on Mondays and that there is sensitivity on the part of the federation. The fans' problem no longer exists in this situation."

LaLiga clubs were able to open their facilities for individual training sessions last week and can start working in limited groups from Monday.

"The players have to be focused. Each new phase allows you to be with more people and you have to be careful," said Tebas.

"With the security measure we have, it is practically impossible for there to be a contagion in training."

LaLiga clubs have been given approval to begin training in groups of up to 10 players from Monday.

Following LaLiga's coronavirus hiatus, players were allowed to resume individual work on May 4 as the country began to de-escalate its lockdown measures.

Although strict guidelines are set to remain in place for Madrid and Catalonia over the coming weeks, the lockdown is being eased in many other regions of Spain, with Saturday's COVID-19 death toll dropping to 102, the lowest daily figure for two months.

But in accordance with government regulations and protocols, clubs will be able to resume group sessions at their training bases from Monday.

Initially teams will be required to work in groups of no more than 10 players, but they are still not permitted to use changing facilities and must arrive and leave individually.

The groups must work on different pitches, or at the very least in opposite halves.

Each group of players will be allowed to use gym facilities at the same time, as long as social distancing is adhered to and disinfection protocols are maintained.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas is hopeful of resuming the 2019-20 season on June 12, with Germany's Bundesliga the first of Europe's top-five leagues to return to the pitch following its resumption on Saturday.

Sevilla forward Munir El Haddadi is in favour of LaLiga resuming the 2019-20 season from June 12, convinced that gives teams long enough to prepare.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused mass disruption to sport across Europe and Spain's LaLiga has been no different, with a ball not being kicked since early March.

Although lockdown measures look set to be extended again in Madrid, in many other areas of the country they are being relaxed, with Saturday's COVID-19 death toll of 102 people being the lowest daily figure in two months.

Monday will mark a fortnight since players were given the green light to return to individual training, while sessions in groups of up to 10 are set to begin at the start of the week, even for the Madrid-based clubs.

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has outlined Friday June 12 as his target for a return to the pitch behind closed doors, with matches played "every day for 35 days", and Munir sees no issue with that date.

"Well, as far as I know they haven't told us anything," Munir told Marca when asked about potentially resuming the season with a derby contest against Real Betis.

"If it has to be played, then we will play. We have to train hard to be the best we can when they say.

"I think it [June 12] is fine. Four weeks already gives you time to do things. The best thing is the sooner you open to work in a group, which is what we need.

"We want to play, all with caution because we have been stopped for a long time. It is not the same as being on vacation – [it's been] two months locked up without being able to go out or train well. Little by little, we have to do more and safely."

Prior to the season's pause, Munir had struggled for first-team football at Sevilla this term under Julen Lopetegui, despite an encouraging first few months at the club following his move from Barcelona last January.

But the Spain international insists he and Lopetegui get on well, and he is eager to repay the backing he receives from fans before he contemplates moving on.

"It is true that from there [the Copa del Rey defeat to Mirandes in January] I do not play and it may seem that way, but I tell you that with the coach I get along very well and there is no problem," the Barca youth product said.

"And if there has been a problem, it can be solved by speaking. There has been nothing, we have never discussed or anything like that. I am going to continue working, trying to grow and helping the team.

"Really, and I have thought about this many times – I have to return the affection that Sevilla is showing me.

"I think I can give a lot to Sevilla and the fans that are so spectacular. They have always supported me, whether I'm in this situation or playing."

LaLiga president Javier Tebas is hoping the league can get back underway on June 12, promising matches "every day for 35 days".

The campaign was suspended in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 283,000 people worldwide.

Tebas has continually targeted mid-June as a resumption date and he reaffirmed that goal on Sunday.

"I don't know. It will depend on the phases. I wish it was June 12. It will depend on the phases," he told Movistar.

"It will depend on the spikes in the virus... the first and the second division will end at the same time.

"There will be football every day for 35 days."

It was confirmed on Sunday that five players across Spain's top two divisions had tested positive for COVID-19.

Tebas said that result was better than expected, and he hopes all players are clear when LaLiga resumes.

"We hope for the return of the competition almost no infected. If things are done as they should be, there shouldn't be," he said.

"If five infected appear at a club, it would denote some negligence. We are going to be on top [of it].

"There is a place where we have no control, which is when the players and coaches go home. They have been given a sheet of what to do."

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