As the spread of coronavirus – or Covid 19, if you want to be entirely accurate about these things – continues, the authorities in the UK are set to meet on Monday to discuss how football will respond in the coming weeks.
Games in Italy have of course been played behind closed doors, including potentially the biggest fixture of the season on Sunday when Juventus took a colossal step towards their ninth title in a row by beating Inter 2-0.
That policy looks like it’s going to be extended beyond Serie A, with talk of matches being held without crowds in France and Germany, potentially including some Champions League games this week.
The Premier League carried on broadly as normal this weekend, aside from the pre-match handshakes being banned with both teams instead simply walking past each other in what was presumably supposed to be silent and contactless respect, but ultimately just looked like a bunch of people passive-aggressively ignoring each other.
But given that this is a virus apparently spread by close contact and proximity in large crowds, is it irresponsible for games to even be taking place?
Daniel Storey certainly thinks so, and said as much on Monday’s edition of the Totally Football Show:
“I personally cannot fathom why, if there’s even a case that football is playing a role in spreading the disease, how on earth you can ever let fans in [to the stadia] or even play the games.
“I love football, and it is thankfully my livelihood, but there are some things that are bigger than football, and the spread of a pandemic would seem to be one of them.
“Obviously it’s not my call, and I suspect they will muddle on a little bit.”
One mooted solution was to prevent over-70s – generally the most at-risk group from the disease – from attending games, which as many have pointed out could be a problem for the 72-year-old Roy Hodgson, but that seems a little unworkable.
“Banning over-70s – I don’t get that,” said Daniel. “Those over-70s who don’t go to the game will then meet people who did and thus pick up the virus. It’s an odd one.”
Michael Cox added: “I don’t want to be flippant about it because it’s a serious situation, but would you have to take ID along? Imagine if you’re 50 and you get ID’d going into the game because you’re suspected to be over 70. That would be difficult…”
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