Without any doubt, Coronavirus has come as a shock and a big scare to many people around the world. Coronavirus has halted down business operations in many different industries all around the globe due to its high contamination risk. Lately, the soccer industry too has been widely affected in numerous ways.
To start with, several leagues’ fixtures ended up being cancelled or postponed to a later date in order to avoid the spread of this highly contagious disease (Panja & Duerden, 2020). With that said, medical experts are burning the midnight oil with the aim of coming up with a vaccine. Having thousands of people in a single box watching a ball bounce around certainly doesn’t help with maintaining the virus. But, if you are a fanatic like I am, then you are ready to give up your life to see that ball bounce and find the back of the right net.
In China, where Coronavirus hit the hardest killing at least 2,800 people, football officials have delayed the start of the season. In addition to this, at least one top-division team has been stranded in the Middle East for an unspecified number of weeks (Bangkok Post Public Company Limited, 2020). Additionally, Chinese Super League which has been experiencing tremendous growth in the last few years due to the transfer of world class stars by insane amounts of transfer fees and huge wages, is probably not going to be a preferred destination for a certain period of time for players. Foreign players may likely turn down renewing ending contracts as they possibly may seek to exit China soon. In addition to players wanting to move away from the Chinese Super league, it seems like not many players are eager to be transferred into a Chinese club as well. Reports from transfermarket.com indicate that nine out of sixteen teams have not been able to make any transfer deals in the past transfer window.
China is not the only country in Asia where the coronavirus has affected football. In February, all football fans in South Korea were checked for fever before entering the stadiums. Japanese football association announced that they are going to be postponing league games until mid-March (Panja & Duerden, 2020). Vietnam has also paused any type of sporting activities in February.
Coronavirus has also spread to Europe affecting the football industry. In Italy, where more than 300 cases have been reported so far, the second leg of a knockout fixture was played behind closed doors and forced the Inter management to refund all purchased ticket. Up to date, five Serie A games have been cancelled as a result of the outbreak, including the much anticipated Inter vs Juventus match. Some Serie A clubs are taking measures into their own hands by purchasing face masks as well as hand sanitizers for their employees. To reduce exposure and the risk of contamination, some clubs have told their staff that they should work from home if their presence isn’t absolutely needed at the headquarters or any specific work-related spot.
FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, stated that the health of people is considerably more important than anything else and that FIFA will not be taking any actions to jeopardize the health of individuals. While speaking in Belfast ahead of the annual FIFA meeting, Gianni made it clear that international matches are likely to be postponed if coronavirus continues to spread. Also, Infantino confirmed that England’s pre-Euro2020 international friendly, which was going to be held in the worldly renown Wembley stadium in March might be cancelled due to coronavirus scare (Keegan, 2020). In contrast to this, FA boss, Greg Clarke, stated that England is going to train for the upcoming friendly against Italy and also for the Euro2020. Finally, this weekend’s matches in Switzerland’s top two divisions were cancelled with the Swiss government banning any event hosting at least 1000 people.
The threat is very real. Although I absolutely hate seeing matches get delayed, it is important to take any measure that will minimize the spread rate of the Coronavirus.
Bangkok Post Public Company Limited. (2020, February 27). Chinese Football Transfer Market Collapses in Face of Coronavirus. Https://www.bangkokpost.com. Retrieved March 2, 2020, from https://www.bangkokpost.com/world/1866974/chinese-football-transfer-market-collapses-in-face-of-coronavirus
Keegan, M. (2020, February 28). FIFA President Gianni Infantino Insists Matches Will Be Postponed. Mail Online. Retrieved March 2, 2020, from https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sportsnews/article-8057247/FIFA-president-Gianni-Infantino-insists-matches-postponed-deadly-coronavirus-spreads.html
Panja, T., & Duerden, J. (2020, February 25). Coronavirus Spreads to Soccer’s Schedule, Closing Stadiums and Stranding Teams. The New York Times – Breaking News, World News & Multimedia. Retrieved March 2, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/25/world/europe/coronavirus-soccer.html