Coronavirus and football: Is football on the way back from hiatus?
The coronavirus pandemic has put football on pause around the world with only a few select leagues continuing on. The Belarus Premier League and Nicaragua Primera Division have been the leading lights during a dark time. However, it appears the pause on some of the major football leagues around the world is about to end.
Who’s coming back to play?
Although not considered one of the world’s major leagues, the Korean K-League announced this past week that games will begin on May 8 and 9. The country’s clubs have faced immense financial pressure due to the coronavirus but now can begin playing. Unfortunately, all games will be played behind closed doors.
The Bundesliga is also set to return on the same weekend although the response to the league’s comeback hasn’t been met warmly. Fans have criticised the Bundesliga’s return and Germany’s police authorities claimed that supporters will gather outside of stadiums causing public health problems.
Still, the league’s return looks inevitable. Like in Korea, all games will be played behind closed doors and players could even be sent out onto the pitch wearing medical face masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
What about the Premier League?
On the heels of the K-League and Bundesliga returning, the Premier League is said to be “within weeks” of a comeback of its own. Government officials have been quoted as saying they want to get live sports back on TV. Live sports would bring a sense of relief to the millions of people stuck at home and give individuals a feeling that the measures to curb the coronavirus are working/have worked.
The Italian Serie A season has been extended until August 2. However, there is no guarantee the season will be completed. La Liga plans to return in June with COVID-19 test kits readily available and biodegradable kit bags used by all teams. La Liga chief Javier Tebas has even stated that teams who refuse to play after the return will be docked points in the table.
Italy and Spain have been the hardest hit countries per capita in Europe. Still, it looks likely that the two countries will return to some football normalcy. Down the football pyramid, games might not restart. In England, the National League all the way down to kids grassroots football, seasons have been called off.