May 13, 2020 / 1:58 PM / 16 days ago

Switzerland launches rescue package for soccer and ice hockey

FILE PHOTO: Lausanne Hockey Club players and staff train during a media visit a day before their first game at the newly built Vaudoise Arena, which will be used in 2020 for the Winter Youth Olympics and Ice Hockey World Championships, in Lausanne, Switzerland, September 23, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

BERN (Reuters) - Switzerland has announced a 350 million Swiss franc ($362 million) rescue package for its professional soccer and ice hockey leagues but insists the money should not be used to pay wages to high-earning players.

The Swiss Football League has yet to decide whether it will attempt to complete the season after it was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic at the start of March, though the ice hockey season has already been abandoned.

“The cornerstones of the Swiss sports system are threatened by the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, such as the collapse of ticket sales and season tickets, the cancellation of small and large-scale sporting events and sponsors’ cancellations,” a federal government statement said.

“Experience from previous economic and financial crises shows that sport suffers more severely and more permanently from a crisis than the economy.”

The government said the money would be paid in the form of loans and that “federal loans must not be used to finance players’ above-average salaries”.

A further 150 million francs was made available to other sports and mass-participation sport, it said.

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by David Goodman

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