It’s a dream of every soccer player to represent their country in the World Cup. For many, it becomes an emotional moment seeing the colours of their country’s flag soaring in the wind, as the national anthem plays throughout the stadium. But many athletes were robbed of the opportunity to celebrate their country this year due to COVID-19.
The highly anticipated European Championship in London, which was scheduled for this summer, was abandoned by Federation International Football Association due to the number of positive tests for COVID-19. The FIFA board of directors have put measures in place for international fixtures to be played at this time.
There has been a spike in the number of players and staff that have contracted the virus since country leagues paused because of the international break, where leagues pause for players to play for their country in the World Cup qualifiers. With many countries set to take the field to play international games, the risk of spreading COVID-19 increases. Despite the measures put in place to prevent the spread of the virus, like playing in a bubble and getting tested before each game, once players begin to travel from different countries to play games, the risk of contracting and further spreading the virus increases.
With many countries like England heading into the second wave of the pandemic, the British government issued new regulations related to travelling in and out of the country. Initially, athletes were exempted from many travel regulations in order to participate in major competitions in other countries, such as the Champions League in Europe.
Many teams have struggled with injuries and players being sidelined after contracting the virus and passionate supporters, players and coaches are becoming more concerned with their safety. If players continue to contract the virus at this rate, FIFA could take significant action in deciding whether to go ahead with the leagues and international games or not.
FIFA and its board of directors have to come together to decide whether it is a good idea to allow international games to continue at the moment given the many COVID-19 cases amongst players. Another option would be to allow only domestic leagues to continue, where players would resort to staying within the isolated bubble to reduce the amount of travelling players have to do to play games.
If the virus continues to spiral the way it has since the first wave, eventually even the domestic leagues would have to be abandoned either for the remainder of the season or until the spread of the virus has been regulated.
In the meantime, the millions of passionate and patriotic soccer fans continue to watch the nail-biting league games as they wait to see how their favourite teams shape up for domestic games after the international break has concluded.