By Amedeo Baboin
The 2020 COVID-19 Global Pandemic that was declared first in Wuan, China, quickly made its way to Europe in March, pausing the expansion of the football world for over three months. Its effects were multiple and, in some cases, catastrophic.
Effect one: Atheletes loose endurance and muscle.
A good and stable physical condition is probably the most important quality a football player must have. To keep it up, hard and constant work is the only key and can only be acquired with adapted equipment that athletes do not always have at home. The sanitary conditions that the players have been exposed to is a decisive point in their careers. The players who will come back from Lockdown with poor physical endurance and shape will probably take six months or more to get back to top level. In the world of football, six months is enough to get replaced by a more talented and stronger player. For many players, Lockdown will either end their career or boost it up. When asked how he thinks players are managing to keep in shape during Lockdown, Grégoire Du Plessis, a 15-year-old student at La Tour, said that “it was difficult for some players to keep in shape, for example Gonzalo Higuain or Dimitri Payet, who came back to training with a few extra pounds. Others like Cristiano Ronaldo took the opportunity to reinforce their physical abilities with serious exercises and came back stronger than ever. The difference can be seen today.” In fact, Cristiano Ronaldo came back with 1.4% of muscle mass after Lockdown.
Effect 2: Staying on Schedule
The combination that allows the National League games, International games, European Champions and Europa League, Euro and World Cups to take place throughout a whole season is hard to find. It must be neatly reviewed by FIFA in order to match. The consequent sanitary conditions postponed all professional competitions and in some cases cancelled them altogether. Some, like the Champions League, took place with just a couple months delay. But the Euro 2020, attracting many hundred thousands of people every edition, which is supposed to take place in June, was postponed to next year. The French Ligue 1 Conforama was simply cancelled, an unfair decision for some clubs that will not qualify for Europe. Twenty-four-year -old student Alexandre Lefort has a rather positive opinion about this decision, though: “I think it was a good decision, even though Lyon and PSG were advantaged in comparason to other European clubs which did not have as much rest.” Alexandre saw it as right, since the two French teams managed to get to the semi-finals and PSG to the Final.
Effect 3: A Disaster for the Economy
Stadium ticketing profits is one of the major income resources for clubs and leagues. Smaller clubs cannot afford to lose this supply to survive and keep competing against wealthier clubs. Leeds United, for example, protested the closing of stadiums, arguing that financially stable clubs, like Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspurs, should have a spending limit for the summer Mercato. In addition, some players refused salary cuts, dragging their clubs into backrupt. An anonymous 40-years old former player tells us: “I find it outrageous that players, paid fortunes, refuse salary cuts, while they are more than aware of the difficulties their clubs are going through.”