ROME (Reuters) – The head of the Italian Referees Association (AIA) hopes match officials will be treated with greater respect if and when Serie A returns following the coronavirus stoppage.

“I hope this virus will teach us to change our attitudes and have a bit more respect,” AIA head Marcello Nicchi told Radio Sportiva in an interview.

“Was the coronavirus needed to say that players should keep their distance from the referee when they protest? It’s an ethical issue that I hope everyone will assimilate.”

The Italian government has said it will decide on May 28 if and when Serie A, which has been suspended since March 9, can restart.

“The referees are decisive, not having them would be like playing without the ball,” added Nicchi. “The only thing we’ve been doing for months is to keep physically and mentally fit to make our contribution in the event of any league restart.”

(Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis)

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