The rise in COVID-19 cases in Western Europe has had a very clear impact on football on the continent. Stadiums were once again empty, squads resurfaced, games were cancelled, and some English clubs pressured the Premier League to postpone matches until January.
In the UK, the rise 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 pandemic. In England, in particular, this month of December accounts for about 30% of the entire pandemic (more than 2.8 million, or 5% of the population), which means that at least one in every 20 people in the country got infected. In just two weeks.
This week, a new wave hit English football, and three Premier League matches and one second division match were delayed by Covid-19 spurts across teams. Yesterday, the league announced the postponement of five more games in each division for the same reasons, so the spread of the virus is already having a practical impact on the calendar.
For example, Manchester United is experiencing an outbreak of COVID-19 in the team and that’s why two of their games were postponed in recent days. The club is still alive in the FA Cup and Champions League, so its full schedule is ahead. It may not reach 91 matches a year, as Palmeiras did in Brazil in 2021, but the season already reserves a marathon of games for CR7 & co. To get the team “up to date” with the schedule at some point.
Some English club coaches are pushing for a complete postponement of games until January. “Covid-19 cases are rising, all clubs are having problems,” said Brentford’s Thomas Frank. Chelsea’s Thomas Tuchel admitted that canceling just a few games could make the championship situation unfair; And Leeds’ Marcelo Bielsa said he would “not want to take an advantage” against an opponent decimated by the coronavirus. Pep Guardiola was unable to speak on the matter as the press conference was canceled after his COVID-19 test was inconclusive.
Situation in other countries
Like the United Kingdom, France has also experienced a sudden surge in coronavirus cases: more than 335,000 cases were reported last week (from 6 to 12 December), the highest weekly number in the entire pandemic. Ripple has yet to cancel a Ligue 1 game, but it may only be a matter of time after staff members at Lille and Reims have been contaminated in recent days.
Spain and Italy are on an upward trajectory, but are still far from the worst of the pandemic. In Germany, the peak of cases occurs at the turn of the month, but football is still affected by the pandemic: stadium audiences are limited to 15,000 nationwide, and some clubs have closed-gate games (such as Bayern Munich and RB). Leipzig) because of the poor conditions in their regions.