After three months of total quarantine in Spain, life is slowly returning to normal with one important facet in particular making its comeback: soccer. Not just Spanish La Liga, but the British Premier League, German Bundesliga, and Italian Serie A are planning 332 games in 52 days, starting June 11th and running until August 2nd . This “football marathon” is making up for lost time due to the COVID-19 pandemic which is slowly letting go across Europe.
In fact, the Bundesliga has been back since May 16th. , and this presents a slight problem for the rest of the players because in comparison, they will have much less chance for training and conditioning before an intense series of games. “What worries us most is what could occur on a physical level, the injuries,” explains Espanyol player Bernardo Espinosa, “This risk grows not only due to the time we’ve passed without playing, but also thanks to this strange period we’ve been through.”
This fear is completely justified given how many injuries are already plaguing at least 12 Italian players, with Pierpaolo Marino, the director of Unidese, calling this comeback a “Russian roulette,” writes X-Sports.
Starting on June 11, La Liga will play 110 games in an empty stadium. The total amount of people allowed in a stadium will be 44, according to a Liga press release: two teams’ worth of players, eight photographers, five radio personnel, four television personnel, six journalists, security, referees, and medics. For extra sanitary security, social distancing measures and precautions such as masks, gloves, and a mandatory fever check will be in place for all of the press.
There will be no audience to avoid the possibility of a resurgence of coronavirus cases, as there was following the massive International Women’s Day marches all over Spain following March 8th and the series of sporting and cultural events that happened that and the following days.
The Spanish Federation of the Journalists’ Syndicates (FeSP) has joined soccer players in expressing their grief at this re-opening. The limited number of press allowed at the games has caused some controversy, with the Federation calling it “unacceptable” because of the limited perspective this will result in and the lack of any security of work for freelancers and independent sport journalists. They claim that given the plentiful space available in a stadium aligning with distancing regulations will not be an issue, and as such that the numerical limitation is “in no way justified.”
Real Madrid defender Nacho Fernández told Movistar on May 31st that, “The team has been practicing well and with a lot of confidence. We want to be at 100% when we start, and right now we are at about 95%.” Hopefully the week of training that remains does the players well, and that further injury will be avoided. The number of daily cases has stooped considerably in Spain, with numbers in the 200s and 300s, from 8000 new cases a day in late March for comparison. Irene Lozano, the President of the Supreme Sport Council of Spain (CSD) announced in April that stadiums won’t fill up for a long time, not until there is a vaccine. “I am an optimist for the return of soccer, but without an audience,” she announced.
Although the spectators won’t be able to physically come back to the stadiums, they’ll still be able to watch the games from home. The return of Spain’s beloved sport is boding well as stores and non-essential businesses slowly open up and life little by little fills the streets once more.
Michelle Ramiz, mramiz112358
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