Coronavirus vs. Europe top 5 leagues, Champions League, and Euro 2020
It has been more than two month since Coronavirus has become the nightmare of the people all over the world and affected our lives in different fields, including sports and soccer.
Reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019, coronavirus (COVID-19) started spreading throughout the world rapidly and led many to severe respiratory diseases and death.
Coronavirus is the name for a group of viruses which includes SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome) and the common cold.
COVID-19 spreads from one person to another very fast, which is the main problem. By March 5, the WHO status report revealed that there had been over 90,000 confirmed cases worldwide and over 3,000 deaths (with over 200 occurring outside of China).
Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise to know that sports, including football, have not remained intact. It all began with China, Japan, and South Korea keeping the domestic league games on hold. Many stadiums and forcing numerous football matches were postponed or were played without any spectators. Then it was Serie A turn to join the disaster, as the country was the most infected one, outside Asia. But is that the end? Not for sure. So let’s keep on and take a closer look at the current situation in football world.
What we all are sure about is that all the authorities and the World Health Organization are attempting to reduce the spread of the virus, while people are also doing their best to prevent spreading the virus. In this situation, normal life and also sport activities are on hold.
How has the coronavirus (COVID-19) affected sports world?
As we mentioned before, Coronavirus has kept many sport activities on hold and canceled or postponed many. Let’s review what has happened so far.
What has happened in football world?
The outbreak of the coronavirus has had a serious impact on a number of football events including leagues and matches in Europe, Asia and all the countries where the spread of the virus has been most severe.
As we mentioned earlier Italy's Serie A has been one of the leagues to be affected most by the new situation. At the beginning the Coppa Italia final was moved to the end of May, and all Serie A matches were indefinitely suspended on March 9 after certain fixtures were first played behind closed doors to no fans.
In England, Manchester United signing Odian Ighalo was forced to spend the first few weeks of his time the club away from the rest of the squad since he joined on loan from Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua, while a number of Premier League clubs have revealed that handshakes have been banned at training complexes.
Games across Switzerland at the beginning of March were postponed, while in Spain, La Liga side Valencia have taken measures to prevent the risk of their players becoming infected by cancelling events which would require interaction outside of their immediate connections. France Ligue 1 side Saint-Etienne, meanwhile, cancelled their weekly open training sessions.
This is while Several Champions League last-16 fixtures have been forced to be played behind closed doors, such as Sevilla vs. Roma and PSG vs Dortmund.
On the other side, some matches have simply been cancelled, such as Basel vs. Frankfurt in the Europa League last 32.
However, this was just the beginning, as the situation got worse as the time passed. But what is going on now?
The English Football League has opted to suspend all matches until 4 April, starting with immediate effect.
The EFL held an emergency meeting yesterday morning to discuss the coronavirus and the board agreed unanimously to suspend the forthcoming matches, up until the 3 April.
Later the Premier League joined the EFL in suspending matches until 3 April. This means all professional football across England has been called off for at least three weeks.
These all happened after Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta and Chelsea star Callum Hudson-Odoi were diagnosed with Covid-19.
This is while Manchester City player Benjamin Mendy, three Leicester City players, and the entire first-team squads of Everton and Bournemouth, are all self-isolating.
After the suspension of EFL and Premier League, all professional and grassroots matches in Scotland were postponed until further notice. But what will happen to UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League?
Are Champions League and Europa League games still on?
It has to be said that all UEFA competitions, including Champions League and Europa League matches, have been postponed, due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Manchester City vs. Real Madrid, Juventus vs. Lyon, Barcelona vs. Napoli and Bayern Munich vs. Chelsea are all postponed in the Champions League next week. This is while Manchester United, Wolves and Rangers will all have their matches postponed too.
The draws for the next rounds - which were set for March 20, are also off.
Europe Top 5 & more
As we have already mentioned The Premier League is suspended until 3 April. This is while the other leagues have similar situations more and less. This is what will happen to the other European leagues:
- La Liga, Spain: suspended for at least two weeks till April 3, beginning from March 12.
- Serie A, Italy: suspended until April 3 since March 9.
- Ligue 1, France: all games suspended until further notice.
- Bundesliga, Germany: suspended till March 19.
- Eredivisie, Netherlands: suspended for two weeks, since March 12.
- MLS, USA: suspended until April 11.
- Primera Liga, Portugal: suspended indefinitely, beginning from March 12.
Asia hasn’t been that much different as the Chinese Super Cup, which was originally scheduled to be played on February 5, was postponed, while the AFC Champions League has also been affected, with the group stage being postponed.
Matches involving clubs from China PR will be re-scheduled for April and May 2020, while the East Zone Round of 16 matches are to be postponed for June 16 and 17, with the return leg played on June 23 or 24.
On the other side, the 2020 Chinese Super League season, which was due to get under way on February 22 has been postponed indefinitely, with a decision made by the Chinese Football Association in consultation with state authorities. Japan's J-League, South Korea's K-League, the Thai league and the V. League in Vietnam have also been put on hold.
Other countries have their concerns as well, as for example Football authorities in the United Arab Emirates have prohibited supporters from attending games until further notice while the country deals with the issue.
So far we have talked about Asia, Europe and here is what has happened to Africa. In Morocco, Morocco's football federation suspends all football activity in the country until further notice. But the rest of the continent hasn’t made any new decisions.
Coronavirus vs. other sporting events
There is no doubt that the new virus has infected all the people over the world and all the activities. As well as football, sports such as rugby, golf, cycling, athletics, Formula One, tennis, boxing and more have been affected.
CBA (The Chinese Basketball Association) postponed from February 1 on.
The Six Nations clash between Italy and Ireland scheduled for March 7 was postponed following an outbreak in northern Italy, while the game between England and Italy on March 14 was also postponed.
PGA Tour, European Tour and the women's LPGA tour have all postponed or cancelled planned events.
The International Olympic Committee (ICC) postponed Olympic boxing qualifiers that were due to take place in Wuhan.
April's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai has also been postponed, with Formula 1's governing body expressing a desire to "ensure the health and safety" of drivers and fans.
2020 NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, MLB spring training games in Florida, spring football games in Ohio State, Jordan Brand Classic, and the upcoming Western Mass of The Basketball Hall of Fame are the other games and tournaments to be canceled.
The Edinburgh Marathon, scheduled to take place on Sunday, 24 May, is postponed with organisers aiming to announce a new date on Monday.
The World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight final - and IBF world title bout - in Riga between Latvia's Mairis Briedis and Cuba's Yuniel Dorticos, scheduled for 21 March, is moved to 16 May.
The Cookstown 100 is postponed, with new provisional dates of 11 and 12 September subject to approval from the relevant authorities.
For Netball Loughborough Lightning's Superleague game against Saracens Mavericks on Monday, 16 March will be played behind closed doors.
This is while many other have been suspended. Here is a list of all the games and tournaments which have been suspended:
The NBA has suspended the regular season for an indefinite amount of time.
NHL has paused its season.
The LPGA announced on Thursday that it has postponed its first three events of 2020 because of coronavirus, including the first major of the year, the ANA Inspiration.
MLB has pushed back the start of the regular season by at least two weeks.
Minor League Baseball has suspended the start of its season.
The National Lacrosse League is suspending games until further notice.
La Liga, in Spain, has suspended the season for two weeks.
NASCAR will hold races at Atlanta Motorspeedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway without fans.
Time to go back to football... The next question would be…
Which football players and clubs have been affected?
The first name on the list was Mikel Arteta, Arsenal head coach, whose test was positive for coronavirus and that was the beginning of suspending Premier League.
Then it was Callum Hudson-Odoi, Chelsea and England player whose test also was positive for coronavirus. It was announced that he is infected by the virus on 12th March, the same day that Arteta had his test.
In addition to them, there are other people being self-isolated. Players such as Benjamin Mendy, Manchester City and France player, Arsenal entire men's first team in addition to staff, Chelsea entire men's first team plus staff, Real Madrid entire men's first team in addition to staff, Juventus entire men's first team in addition to staff, and so on.
It also has to be mentioned that Leicester City, Everton, Nottingham Forest and Olympiakos are the other clubs being affected by the new Coronavirus.
What will happen in the future?
One of the main questions is that what will happen to the upcoming tournaments and what are the financial cost of all these suspensions and cancellations. Let’s figure it out.
UEFA Euro 2020 vs. Coronavirus
First of all it has to be said that UEFA will hold a meeting with its 55 member associations on Tuesday, March 17, about what to do with the association's remaining competitions in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. UEFA also has to decide whether to host Euro 2020, which is scheduled to take place from mid-June to mid-July.
This is while for now it is set for UEFA Euro 2020 to be kicked off in Rome on 12 June with the opening ceremony and the first match of the tournament taking place in Stadio Olympico. Italy, with the most coronavirus cases in Europe, is one of the 12 hosts for UEFA Euro 2020 and is planned to host three matches in group A and one quarter-final. Meanwhile, because of the coronavirus outbreak no one is sure about the tournament to be on time or not.
It is interesting to know that there are rumors swirling around, as one of the main one says UEFA is considering moving Euro 2020 to December to allow enough time for the Premier League and other club competitions to complete their fixtures over the summer, following disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
What seemed to be a joyful party across Europe now seems to have become a serious disadvantage. Professor Christopher Dye, an epidemiologist at the University of Oxford who has the experience of working with the IOC in response to the outbreak of Zika virus before the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, believes that “It is a disadvantage that the Euros are to be held on a number of different sites. The idea of controlling spread close to venues would essentially be impossible. The risk assessment that will be taken when we reach June is how widely spread the virus has become, how many contracted it, how many are getting seriously ill and how many infected in congregant settings like football stadiums. What is happening in Italy at the moment will be one factor that will be taken into account. But when it comes to April and May, what happened in Italy in February will look like the relatively distant past.”
Indeed, there is still a long way to UEFA Euro 2020, but the meeting on Tuesday will preordain the destiny of the tournament.
EFL clubs fear for future if coronavirus outbreak continues
The EFL has told the government that some clubs fear going out of business if games continue being cancelled and postponed as a response to the coronavirus.
Though the clubs understand the importance of following all advice and putting public safety first, some are seriously worried about the financial impact, which is certainly a very important issue.
However, considering the situation and the number of infected people, there is nothing to do to solve the problem. The number of people in the UK testing positive for Covid-19 rose from 798 on Friday to 1,140 on Saturday, 14 March, while 21 have sadly passed away.
Considering the concern of these clubs and many more around the world, it is time to take a closer look at the financial cost of Coronavirus on football.
Coronavirus, sports and the financial cost
As we all know most leagues have stopped because of COVID-19 around the world.
It was announced on Saturday 14 March that the five major championships in Europe are all suspended, while many other are being played behind closed doors.
Initially, the national championships held matches without an audience, which also affected the two continental competitions. But then with the outbreak of COVID-19, and the great restrictions imposed by many countries on the movement of travel, football authorities found themselves obliged to impose a comprehensive suspension until at least early April.
But the economic and financial reality is beginning to impose itself on the clubs of the old continent, which spend huge amounts of money on football teams, and rely heavily on the revenues of matches, fans and television broadcasting rights.
According to a study by the Spanish "Cuban" radio, the League clubs that announced, this week, the stopping of at least two stages, will lose a total of 600 million euros (665 million dollars) if no other matches are held this season.
This is a disaster for the small and medium clubs that do not have significant financial capabilities or huge sponsorship contracts.
However, it has to be mentioned that in England, where television broadcasting contracts are among the most expensive in the world, it is expected that the Premier League clubs will be able to bear the losses, which may be caused by stopping the games for a short period, and may reach 120 million euros per month, but the biggest impact will affect the three lowest-ranking clubs, such as the Women's League matches.
This is while the other leagues and clubs have similar situation. For instance, in the event that the Spanish Football League ends early, the Liga clubs will lose 600 million euros, along with other indirect losses.
Over all, it is assumed that based on the current suspensions, football will soon suffer a short, sharp shock before normal service resumes, and the duration of the period completely depends on internal and external factors.
In the UK it is not expected to peak until the end of May/early June but how long it will take for a full program of fixtures is impossible to say. Coronavirus may hit economies on a local, national and world scale at least as hard as football and the length of recovery could be disastrous for the game as we know it.
What do you think about the effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on sports and specially football? How long would it take for the sport to go back to normal? Share your comment with us in the comment section.
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