COVID-19 and the Future of Football

By | March 23, 2020

By now, most people understand that we are in the midst of a global pandemic the likes of which we have not seen in many years. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is the highly infectious virus that causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) that many people are now becoming familiar with. While I highly recommend readers learn more about COVID-19 and its seriousness, this blog post will not be dealing with this—instead, I will be looking at the effects of COVID-19 on the world of football. For those interested in learning a bit more about the disease, I highly recommend the following informational video (stay informed!):

But back to football. As followers of the various football leagues probably know by now, play has been postponed nearly globally. While initially many of the leagues discussed the possibility of playing in empty stadiums, the increased severity and escalation of COVID-19 had pushed all the leagues to reconsider. The English Premier League was initially supposed to only be postponed to April 3rd, but the suspension has recently been ‘extended indefinitely’ with the earliest possible date to come back set for April 30th [1]. La Liga has been postponed indefinitely [2], the Bundesliga has been postponed to at least April 2nd[3], Ligue 1 has been postponed to at least June 15th [4],  and Serie A has been postponed to at least April 3rd [5]. Even outside of the major leagues, major competitions such as the European Championship (Euro 2020) and the Copa America have been postponed an entire year, both slated to pick back up in the summer of 2021 [6]. In short, it’s going to be a while before football is back.

This postponement is not just inconvenient for the fans, but also is taking a large toll on football clubs and organizations. Without the ability to play games, many clubs are finding themselves in a rough situation that is only getting rougher the longer they have to go without playing games. Bernard Caiazzo, the president of Saint-Etienne’s supervisory board, said, ‘”I am very, very, very worried for all the clubs… Without state aid, within six months, half of professional clubs will have to file for bankruptcy. The five major leagues have already lost €4 billion and the French league between €500m and €600m”’ [7]. While there is no doubt that football will eventually come back, the economic effects of COVID-19 are undeniable and paint a somewhat uncertain picture of the future of some football clubs. While many of these clubs are losing massive amounts of money, chances are that the largest and most famous clubs will still come out okay in the end, but one has to wonder what will happen to many of the smaller clubs that suddenly find themselves bankrupt and without a way to pay their players and staff. The economic effects of COVID-19 could be a blog post just in itself, but instead I will leave this video that I recommend:

Aside from the postponements and the economic impacts, football is a game revolving around people, and football players and managers have proven themselves to be far from invincible during this pandemic. Already, famous figures such as Mikel Arteta, Paulo Dybala, and a number of others have tested positive for COVID-19 (see this link for an up to date list [8]. Even more serious, just this last weekend, Lorenzo Sanz, former Real Madrid president who helped steer the club to two Champions League titles, passed away due to the virus [9]. On a lighter note, 18 of the top teams from La Liga came together virtually this past weekend as players competed in a competition on the popular video game FIFA. Marco Asensio ended up bringing home the win for Real Madrid, and this online tournament raised over $150,000 for COVID-19 relief.

What do you think of the future of football? Do you think the football clubs and organizations should do anything different in relation to COVID-19? Leave your thoughts down below! Stay safe and remember to wash your hands.

 

 

Sources:

[1] https://soccer.nbcsports.com/2020/03/19/premier-league-suspended-until-april-30-extended-indefinitely/

[2] https://www.msn.com/en-in/sports/football/la-liga-spanish-football-competitions-postponed-indefinitely-as-covid-19-crisis-worsens/ar-BB11A5xz

[3] https://www.sbnation.com/soccer/2020/3/13/21178393/bundesliga-postponed-covid-19-coronavirus

[4] https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/world/ligue-1-set-to-be-postponed-until-at-least-june-15-amid-coronavirus-pandemic/ar-BB11zwXQ

https://www.bbc.com/sport/51808683

[6] https://www.theguardian.com/football/2020/mar/17/euro-2020-postponed-coronavirus-uefa-champions-league-europa-league

[7] https://www.espn.com/soccer/french-ligue-1/story/4077669/coronavirus-could-force-ligue-1-clubs-into-bankruptcy-saint-etienne-chief

[8] https://www.cbssports.com/soccer/news/coronavirus-soccer-players-coaches-and-club-members-who-have-tested-positive-for-covid-19/

[9] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/22/obituaries/lorenzo-sanz-dead.html

4 thoughts on “COVID-19 and the Future of Football

  1. Daniel Castro

    It’s wild to think that since I first wrote my blog post on February 29th (https://sites.duke.edu/wcwp/2020/02/29/el-futbol-y-coronavirus-en-los-paises-mas-afectadas/) on China, South Korea, and Italy, the scale of this global pandemic has grown exponentially. Postponement or outright cancellation has been the only remedy to contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health of both fans and players. Hopefully in the long run, once society returns to normal, fans can turn to supporting their local teams, as small as they may be, as a way to heal economically and emotionally. Global brands such as FC Barcelona and Manchester City will continue to thrive, but I worry about the smaller clubs who will have to invent even more creative solutions (than they already do) to keep their teams afloat in a post-pandemic world.

    Reply
  2. Christopher Suh

    I think it will be interesting to see how this situation develops, especially as the big money TV deals begin to come into play. Recently, there has been talk of resuming the season behind closed doors, although this proposal has come under fire: https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/coronavirus-premier-league-isolated-camps-remaining-fixtures-dates-suspension-latest-a9432961.html

    I feel as though being able to watch matches again would be a welcome distraction for many of us now in the unusual situation of having enough time and not enough entertainment, but at the same time, if “football is a game revolving around people”, then perhaps this is the time for us to recognize that there are other matters that our societies must tend to first at the moment.

    Reply
  3. Rachel Simpson

    Thanks for all of the information! Not only is it sad to see football canceled at this time but it is also sad to see the negative impact it has had on football players, coaches and all other related staff both physically and financially. It is crazy to see athletes affected by the virus as they are all in the best of shape. I do think it is necessary for football to follow other sports to ensure safety amongst players and staff.

    I attached a link to an article that describes some of the effects that COVID-19 has had on smaller football clubs already. It is such a tragedy how smaller organizations and owners are always impacted the most during crises.

    https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2020/03/21/business/ap-soc-virus-outbreak-smaller-clubs.html

    Reply
  4. Angel Garza Reyna

    Thank you for the information! Especially, football as a whole is one of the most affected things as we speak. It is saddening how many of the games have been postponed or canceled, but this is being done for the best. Soon, we hope, things will get cleared up, and everything will return to normal.

    Reply

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