‘What’s football without fans?’ — Reactions as EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga set for resumption amid COVID-19 pandemic

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By Victor Akuma

Top-flight football leagues in Europe is set to resume play after weeks of lockdown restriction on all sports related activities in Europe and elsewhere.

The Leagues FAs and LMAs reached the decision after much deliberations on consequences of such decision as well as measures to put in place in ensuring that clubs are not exposed to the dreaded virus.

England Government had on Monday told officials of the English Premier League that the league could resume but matches will have to take place at neutral grounds and behind closed doors, to ensure players safety. This decision however, seems not to be favourable to the league’s officials who are insisting otherwise.

The meeting was rescheduled till Monday 18 May for final decisions on the playing grounds and the exact week to kickoff matches as some pundits have argued that the earlier stated June 1 might not be feasible. The Monday meeting will also decide if at all the league is going to continue as said Richard Masters, the Premier League chief executive on Monday.

In Germany, the Bundesliga will start as early as Saturday 16th May after 61-days of indecisiveness. However, all clubs in the top two divisions are expected to adhere to an 11-point list of safety guidelines laid out by the league (ESPN reported).

Among the matches to lookout for in the Saturday fixtures are:

Borussia Dortmund vs Schalke 04 (2:30 pm)

Augsburg vs Wolfsburg (2:30 pm)

Eintracht Frankfurt? -? Borussia Mönchengladbach (5:30 pm)

Recall also that in Spain, La Liga president, Javier Tebas has set June 12 as the target date for the league to resume. This undoubtedly explains why some teams in the LA Liga have resumed training sections.

Lending their opinions to the move by European leagues to start, some football fans spoke with CRISPNG.

According to Ogbodo Somtochukwu “Resuming these games I think, is a welcomed development, the world has missed the game of football and everyone is at home doing nothing, at least, give them something to live for since the games will be played behind closed doors with adequate medical facilities, every player tested before and after every game.

“As for the top teams, I believe the league games should be completed. If you believe you are the champion, prove it.

“When you look at LA Liga for instance, Barcelona maintains the top position with two points which they got from their last game before the outbreak as a result of real Madrid’s loss.”

“Now, Real Madrid have met Barcelona twice this season and Madrid have drawn one and won one which makes them a better team than Barcelona when you go head-to-head.

“So, for this type of issue to be settled, the league games should be completed. Cancelling the league will be good but it will not be fair on a team like Liverpool that have worked their life out to get to where they are.”

According to Ekpali Saint, he said if leagues resumption entails having thousands of fans converging at a place, it’s best to keep the leagues closed.

“I will not advice these top football leagues resume next month. These are leagues that involve, engage and bring a lot of people together. I will advise they remain patient.

“It’s not wise to cancel entirely the top leagues. Many opportunities will be lost. Just like I said, resuming so soon will definitely expose people to the pandemic. The sudden outbreak of the pandemic was unexpected. But then, it’s best they remain patient and it won’t make sense if trophies are just given like that. They should be patient.”

Mbagwu Henry buys the idea of having clubs play behind closed doors.

“Leagues should restart. Perhaps with closed stadiums. Judging by the pandemic, we could have restrictions on the field even though that will be difficult.”

Showing disapproval to the decision of European league Presidents, Nwachukwu Irole suggests that all leagues should be canceled.

“The league should be cancelled till this pandemic is over because football is fun with the fans than without them. Personally, I would say trophies should be given to no one because I’m a United fan and can’t see Liverpool win anything.”

“Some leagues have toppers with 1 or 2 points ahead, so awarding the trophy to them now will be a scam and unmerited”

According to Peter Frank, he explains how resuming the league will help stimulate the mental health of players and fans alike amid the lockdown.

“It is a welcome development to have the leagues back to the field of play. I stand with those supporting the opening of the leagues because people are not fighting the virus anymore, but alongside it, is mental health. They need someone to cheer them up and the league will help to do that, also helping to prevent suicide, depression etc.”

“The leagues should be finished up naturally than prematurely, giving the titles to those on top as was done in some leagues makes no sense.”

“The players, officials and managers will follow the health guidelines so there is near zero to minimal risks here,” he concluded.

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