Covid-19 cases increase in European football, but clubs want to avoid stoppage

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Covid-19 cases increase in European football, but clubs want to avoid stoppage

Despite protests from some coaches and imposed restrictions, national federations and clubs in Europe are doing everything they can to avoid a repeat of what happened in 2020: the stoppage of football and the loss of billions that would result.

Teams from the main leagues on the continent receive news almost daily of new Covid-19 cases. This Sunday (2), Paris Saint-Germain reported that striker Lionel Messi, defender Juan Bernat, midfielder Nathan Bitumazala and goalkeeper Sergio Rico tested positive for the virus.

Shortly thereafter, Liverpool announced that goalkeeper Alisson, forward Roberto Firmino and defender Matip would not face Chelsea because they also have the disease.

Leaders believed that a stoppage at the end of the year would be favorable to prevent the spread of the virus. But the holidays didn’t help at all. Messi was infected while in Rosario, his hometown in Argentina. He participated in parties where he was with other people and without a mask.

“When Lionel has a negative test he will travel to France, but we don’t know more about that. It all depends on this test. We’ll see when he will be ready to play,” lamented PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino, also Argentina.

For Bayern Munich, the cases of goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, defensive midfielder Corentin Tolisso and attacking midfielder Kingsley Coman happened during the rest period. Tolisso returned to his home in France. Neuer traveled to the Maldives Islands, and Tolisso was in Dubai.

The city of the United Arab Emirates, the country that is going to host the Club World Cup in February, is also a concern for Italian clubs. During the period in which the country’s championship was stopped and the athletes received time off, several traveled to the region at a time when there was an increase in cases of the omicron variant.

According to the Italian press, Alvaro Morata, Dejan Kulusevski, Matthijs de Ligt, Leonatdo Bonucci (all from Juventus), Theo Hernandez (Milan), Lautaro Martínez, Stefan de Vrij (both from Internazionale), Dries Martens (Napoli) and Gianluca Mancini (Rome) visited Dubai in the period.

It’s not clear if they’ve all been tested back in training. The restart of Serie A, interrupted last month, is scheduled for next Thursday (6).

There are no plans to postpone this round. The same goes for Spain, where Barcelona coach Xavi Hernández quipped that he might have to cast the goalkeeper with Stegen in midfield. The team traveled to Mallorca, where they would face the city’s team this Sunday (2), with only nine players from the professional squad available. Two of them are goalkeepers.

Hours earlier, Atlético Madrid defeated Rayo Vallecano 2-0 without Antonio Griezmann, Koke and João Felix, in isolation because of the virus.

In December, Real Madrid had 13 athletes with positive tests. The last four appeared last Wednesday (29). Goalkeeper Courtois, lateral Valverde, midfielder Camavinga and forward Vinicius Junior did not act in the defeat by Getafe by 1-0, this Sunday.

Plans, for now, are to follow the rounds normally scheduled in Spain. That’s what the English Premier League has been trying to do. She established a protocol for postponing isolated games, which promises to hold commitments for some teams in the coming months and angered coaches.

“The integrity of the competition is compromised,” complained Burnley coach Sean Dyche. The club had three games postponed in December and only played three times in the last month. Quite different from Chelsea, for example, who kept all their schedule and took to the field eight times.

The English league postponed a total of 17 games in December. In the first two days of 2022, there were two more. Between December 20 and 26, the directors reported that 103 tests of Covid-19 had positive results among players, members of the coaching staff and employees of teams with direct contact with the cast.

Each country in the main European leagues has taken measures to try to contain the cases and avoid the financial loss that would mean stopping the tournaments.

Germany decided to close the stadiums again and ban fans from entering. This is the opposite of what happens in England so far, where 100% of the capacity remains released.

Italy had reduced public release to 75%, the same percentage as Spain. Upon return, there will be a further decrease, to 50%.

In May of last year, in its report The European Club Footballing Landscape, Uefa estimated that the main clubs on the continent had failed to raise 7.2 billion euros (R$ 45.6 billion in current values) because of the pandemic. Of this total, 3.6 billion euros (BRL 22.8 billion) were in box office losses, 2.4 billion euros (BRL 15.2 billion) in sponsorships and 1.2 billion euros (BRL 7 .6 bi) in TV rights.

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