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The Coronavirus Makes Its Mark On Football

The spread of the Coronavirus worldwide has had a massive
knock-on effect on football and sport in general. As to be expect,
governments and sporting bodies are erring on the side of caution due to
the possible implications on people’s health.

All sport suspended in Italy

Italy seems to have been the worse hit of the European countries when it comes to the illness. The country has been on almost lockdown, with travel restrictions and bans on public gatherings. According to the BBC, 463 people have now died in the country due to the virus. The measures taken by the government are understandable.

On Sunday night, before some of the measures being put in place, two
of Italy’s top teams met in Turin, as Juventus beat title rivals Inter
2-0 at the Allianz Stadium. The game was played behind closed doors. In
truth, the atmosphere was surreal for one of the biggest games in the
Serie A season.

Since the game, all sports have now been suspended. The Italian football federation (FIGC) has suspended Serie A until 3rd April. However, there are now reports that the season may not reach its conclusion. A meeting of the FIGC will take place on 23rd March to decide what to do.

Affecting the whole of Europe

While Italy seems to be the worse hit European country with the
virus, there have been confirmed cases throughout Europe. The UK has
been hit and this evening’s match between Manchester City and Arsenal at
the Etihad Stadium has been postponed.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola supported the decision and has
called for all action to be postponed until there is a solution to the
current situation. Many of the big games in European competitions will
be played behind closed doors. The big weekend Revierderby derby in
Germany between Dortmund and Schalke will also see no fans attend.

Playing behind closed doors seems to be one of only two options. The
other game is to postpone the games, as Guardiola amongst others have
suggested until a proper solution is discovered.

Football means very little without fans in the stadium. No spectators
at the games dilute the game. Watching Juventus v Inter on the
television was a strange experience too. There was no atmosphere and it
almost felt like a training match, instead of one of the biggest games
in the race for the Scudetto.

Sport takes a back seat to life and death

I cannot claim to be an expert on the Coronavirus or anything medical
issue, as I am not a doctor, so cannot comment on the severity of the
illness. However, what I know for sure is that the measures taken by
governments, such as Italy are not taken lightly.

They have medical advisors, who help advise them on these big
decisions. The situation is a serious one and some media reports claim
that it is only going get worse before it gets better.

In these sorts of situations, we must remember that although we love
football, all sport must take a back seat when it comes to life and
death. At the end of the day, it is just a game, a beautiful one at
times, but a game at the end of the day.

Should football be suspended throughout Europe or played behind closed doors?

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