The increase in COVID-19 cases in Western Europe has had a very visible impact on football on the continent. Stadiums were empty again, teams struggled with outbreaks again, matches were called off, and some English clubs even pressured the Premier League to suspend matches until January.
In the UK, the spike in COVID-19 has been meteoric. Since Wednesday (15), the country has recorded three consecutive records of new cases of coronavirus, including 93,045 people diagnosed yesterday (17) – the highest daily number in the entire epidemic. In England, specifically, about 30% of the cases of the entire epidemic have been recorded this month in December (more than 2.8 million, or 5% of the population), which means that at least one person in every 20 people in the country has been infected. In just over two weeks.
This week, the new wave has hit English football hard, with three Premier League games and one second-division game delayed due to COVID-19 spikes in teams. And the league announced yesterday, the postponement of five more matches in each division for the same reasons, and therefore the spread of the virus already has a practical impact on the calendar.
Manchester United, for example, is suffering from a Covid-19 outbreak in the team and that is why two matches have been postponed in recent days. The club is still alive in the FA Cup and Champions League, so their full schedule awaits. You may not reach 91 games in one year, as Palmeiras did in Brazil in 2021, but the season already holds a marathon of matches for CR7 and his co-stars. At some point until the team can “update” the schedule.
Some English club coaches have been pushing for a complete suspension of matches until January. “Covid-19 cases are going up, all the clubs are having problems,” said Thomas Frank of Brentford. Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel admitted that canceling a few matches could lead to an unfair situation in the tournament; And Marcelo Bielsa, from Leeds, said he “did not want to take advantage” against an opponent who has been exhausted by the coronavirus. Pep Guardiola was unable to speak on the matter as the press conference was canceled after the covid-19 test was found to be inconclusive.
The situation in other countries
Like the UK, France has also seen a sudden increase in coronavirus cases: more than 335,000 cases were registered last week (December 6-12), the highest weekly number in the entire pandemic. The Wave has yet to cancel Ligue 1 matches, but it may only be a matter of time now that Lille and Reims have become infected in recent days.
Spain and Italy are heading upwards, but they are still far from the worst of the pandemic. In Germany, the peak of cases appears to have been at the beginning of the month, but football is still affected by the epidemic: stadium audiences are limited to 15,000 people nationwide, and some clubs have held matches with closed doors (eg Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig) due to poor conditions in their areas.
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