Coronavirus: These dark times not for Disney-like world of sport
Yesterday, IOC vice-president Juan Antonio Samaranch and LaLiga head Javier Tebas both stated their refusal to give in. They still feel it’s possible to get back to normality in time to hold the Olympics on the one hand, and complete European football’s club competitions on the other. That said, they may not actually be so confident about that; they may simply feel it is their duty to say they are. I think it mostly comes down to that. It’s what they have to do. They have to have their plans in place and be ready for the changes that the pandemic forces them to make to their projects. They have to review and modify their plans as the days go by and the storm either whips up further or subsides. Who knows if it’ll subside in time.
Someone said to me that their attitude seemed to make light of the tragedy we’re going through. I don’t know. Maybe it serves to offer hope, to give the impression that there is light at the end of the tunnel. The idea that the end isn’t so far away helps people to get through this period of confinement. We’ll soon find out whether the light at the end of the tunnel is in fact the other side, or just another train coming our way. But I have to say that, right now, seeing the Olympic-torch rituals just doesn’t feel right. The same goes for all the talk about when LaLiga could be resumed and completed. It shows that, in the same way that Disney is a world conceived of friendship and happiness, sport is not for dark times like these.
As we bemoan the fact that the authorities did not initially act quickly enough, it’s worth remembering the example of Getafe president Ángel Torres, who said firmly that his team would not travel to Milan to face Inter, even if it cost them their place in the Europa League. That same week, a thousand fans of Atalanta flew to Valencia for a game they knew was behind closed doors, and a further thousand home supporters gathered at the ground for their side’s arrival. Torres’ resoluteness then is an example to follow now that we must all ensure we do the right thing. We can try to work out whether the Games will go ahead as planned, and what day football will be back, all we like; but we must so without leaving the house.