Coronavirus has been a global pandemic and has commenced to grow and spread rapidly around the world in late February this year (2020). One of the fields to have suffered greatly from the COVID-19 is the sporting world, precisely football and it stakeholders.
As of Sunday, April 5, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) had reported 1,252,982 cases with 68,149 deaths which sounds very awful but the only good thing was that, 257,139 recoveries have been made. As the world look to grind an antidote in ending this novel coronavirus pandemic, Eblaradio is at hand to take you through the great setback the sporting world have suffered during this period.
We start with a tragic one, the lives of people in football that the COVID-19 had claimed. Former Real Madrid club President Lorenzo Sanz passed on weeks ago after being admitted to the hospital after contracting the disease. He reigned as the Chairman of the Los Blancos between the period of 1995 and 2000 where he won the Champions league in 1998 and 2000, was succeeded by current club President, Fiorentino Perez.
Again, another former club President Pape Diouf also died just last week at a hospital in Dakar, the capital of his motherland, Senegal. He also served Olympique Marseille for 4yrs (2005-2009) making him the first African to lead a top division club in Europe.
However, in Turkey as at now, their former goalkeeper and the country’s most capped player Rustu Recber is also in a critical condition after also testing positive for the COVID-19. Another sad news received just last night as Chief Medical Professor of French Ligue 1 outfit Stade de Reims, Bernard Gonzalez committed suicide after testing positive for the coronavirus
In as much as it has claimed the lives of some great personalities in the game, most players, coaches and club Presidents have also suffered the same disease. The notable once include Daniel Rugani, Manolo Gabiangdini, Ezekiel Garay, Eliaquim Mangala, Paolo Dybala, Blaise Matuidi, Marouane Fellaini and many more.
Upon all these, the only positive is that some have managed to recover fully; thus Mikel Arteta, Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi and Olympicos club Chairman Evangelos Marinakis.
All these aside, one might think the COVID-19 will have impact on only the affected sportsmen but do you ask yourself, how footballers and other sportsmen will be affected after this period due to their way of training, the kind of money and other bonuses they earn from their personal sponsors that they are going to lose? Non-playing staffs are also beginning to struggle as most of them have stopped receiving their weekly wages notably the staff of Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United etc.
Some footballers had to get sacked by their various clubs after refusing to take a pay cut. Swiss top flight outfit FC Sion have sacked nine players for the same issue including former Arsenal duo Alex Song and Johan Djourou.
Just recently, Ghanaian youngster Emmanuel Boateng got his contract terminated alongside his other four teammates by his club Hapoel Tel Aviv for also refusing to reduce a certain percentage on their salaries. All these constitutes the kind of stress footballers are going through in this period of coronavirus.
Kind enough, these same sportsmen affected are still contributing their quota to help combat this global canker. Football personalities like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Pep Guardiola, Robert Lewandowski, Andre Ayew, Samuel Owusu and many others have followed this steps.
Meanwhile, clubs like Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund have offered their various stadia to be used by the NHS in the cause of fighting against this worldly disease. The famous Marracana Stadium and some other venues in Brazil have also been offered for the same purpose.
In spite of all these, the major once are still yet to appear as this same COVID-19 has also led to the suspension and postponement of many sporting events in the world. In football, FIFA suspended all world cup qualifiers which was supposed to be honoured late last month, UEFA have also suspended all it activities including the Champions league, Europa league and the European Championship.
CAF have also postponed all it activities including the CHAN so as CONMEBOL who have also postponed the Copa America. The AFC is of no exception.
In club football, about 95% of the recognised football countries under FIFA have suspended their domestic leagues due to this same coronavirus except Belarus who are still playing.
Most football fans will side with us that sports is nothing without the fans especially football. Playing behind close doors is also one of the difficulties the sporting world have battled during this period. Champions league clashes between Valencia-Atalanta, PSG-Dortmund were all played without any supporters so as one of the famous derbies in the world thus the Derby De Italia (Italian Derby) between Juventus and Inter Milan. Many Sports Federations decided to move on with their events amid the COVID-19 but to be held with no fans. Most of the main architect of the game disputed that idea notably Basketball star LeBron James of L.A Lakers fame who indicated he play for the fans so he isn’t gonna play without them.
In other sports, the Tennis Federation have cancelled the Wimbledon for the first time since it got suspended during the World War II with the Golf Association also calling off the Irish Open. In Formula 1, both the Azerbaijan and British Grand Prix have all been rescheduled.
With all these, one will indeed realise the COVID-19 has really caused havoc to football and the other sporting disciplines in the world. Follow the safety precautionary measures wherever you are and stay safe.
By: Iddriss Abdul Rahim