Holidays off Xmas menu as Serie A revamps 2018 calendar

Serie A usually stops days before Christmas and resumes on the first weekend of the New Year

The coveted Christmas holidays of Serie A players and officials went off the 2017-2018 menu Thursday as league officials made changes to the calendar that left Italy coach Gian Piero Ventura with indigestion.

Serie A usually stops days before Christmas and resumes on the first weekend of the New Year, allowing players to jet off to sunshine destinations.

But next season league fixtures will be played on December 23 and 30, as well as the traditional fixtures played on the first weekend after the New Year.

In a slight respite, Serie A will stop for a two-week break after the first weekend of 2018 and resume on January 21, although Ventura's request for an August 15 start was rejected.

Italy face Spain in Madrid on September 2 in a potentially decisive 2018 World Cup qualifier.

"Today, the assembly has made important decisions," said Serie A president Ezio Maria Simonelli.

"In fact, we've decided to play during the Christmas holidays, albeit avoiding playing on days which are holy on the Catholic calendar.

"We will play on December 23 and 30 2017 and January 6, 2018."

Ventura had requested an earlier resumption, for August 13. But Simonelli added: "We will resume on August 20, as they will in Spain, who we face in September -- not on August 13 as requested by Ventura."