Like the rest of the world, the football community woke up to the news of a high spread pandemic that forced some shutdown and restructuring of World Football as we know it. Last year witnessed a new dawn to how sports activities are run, particularly those that thrive on their large fanbase.
In 2020, there was an outright ban of all physical sports competitions. Fortunately, there was a gradual reduction in number of cases and the ban was lifted, thus, we get to see our favorite teams in action again. Howbeit, behind closed doors.
Governments all around the world took proactive measures to prevent or greatly minimize the spread of the virus in the country and one of such measures is the travel restriction imposed on some countries – thus affecting teams and clubs to travel for games.
Another major issue that raises concern is perhaps the ban of supporters in all leagues around the world. This has affected, to a very large extent, the revenue of even the top clubs. This engendered contract cancellations, unpaid allowances in some lower leagues.
Here are the 4 greatest effects of Covid-19 in Football
1. Postponed Tournaments
This year will witness a plethora of tournaments because of the postponment that occured at the heat of the global lockdown. The Euro’s, Olympics and other international tournaments were moved with the hope of 2021 being a better year for them to hold.
However, the current global situation is not as favourable as organizers would have hoped. A recent survey in Japan witnessed more citizens still voting for another postponement or an outright cancellation of the Olympics.
As the time draw near to the start of these various tournaments, it is left to see how the governing body of Football worldwide will come to a resolution with various country’s government to allow the events go as scheduled.
In Nigeria particularly, the sports festival, the biggest sporting show of the country, has witnessed series of postponement as the Taskforce on Covid 19 are skeptical to allow such large event hold in the midst of increasing numbers of positive cases and a new viral strain.
2. No Fans, No Fun
Sports team gain huge following manly because of a global presence and a large fan base. Football enthusiasts travel from all parts of the world to see their favourite teams in action.
This following have now taken a dip as fans are banned from entering the stadiums to see their team play. Previously, the UK government allowed for a small number of fans to be permitted but with the new strain, they had to cancel such appearance entirely.
3. Travel Restrictions
There has been an increase of matches taken place at neutral grounds because of government’s restrictions to travellers from certain countries. Some Europa League knock out fixtures will be played on neutral grounds, effectively putting the seemingly home team at a disadvantage.
The concept of home advantage is lost for these teams. While the general argument is that government have a duty to protect the lives of their citizens, it is mainly the sporting world that bears the effect of such decisions.
Also, the high costs of running sustained Covid testing for players and officials as a criteria for matches to take place, have prevented some games from holding in lower leagues around the world.
4. Financial Woes
Like every business anywhere in the world, consumers dictate how healthy your bottom line become at the end of the day. Millions of financial revenue are lost because of the closed door policy thus preventing the sale of tickets.
There were reports of players having to take pay cuts, and the letting go of some club’s backroom staff to ease the financial pressure on the teams. Transfer values have been reduced as clubs try to cut costs.
Sadly, in some of the less developed leagues, players embark on protests to demand their wages. This apparent loss of finance is creating a backlog of problems for some clubs with a huge cut down of costs and with some going into dept.
As we patiently wait in hope for an end to the pandemic, with all its destabilizing effects on sports, it is critical we reflect on how football isn’t all about the players only, but the fans.