The coronavirus sneaks through every door we leave ajar
Following the conclusion of the international break (which, by the way, brought the relief of being able to watch three straight games without VAR), LaLiga is back, with the first Clásico of the season in prospect in just over a week’s time. So far, the Spanish top flight has escaped covid-related interruptions, but we’ll have to keep our fingers crossed on that score, because the virus is still there, hunting down those - and there are many - who don’t keep their guard up. In Italy, two Serie A games have already had to be called off, while two whole teams have had to drop out of the Giro d'Italia. The coronavirus has also sidelined Valentino Rossi and Cristiano Ronaldo, who travel so much that god knows where they were caught it.
EuroLeague coronavirus protocol changes are a mistake
It’s not just Italy, though. The EuroLeague has eased its protocols to allow more postponements, because there’d been so many default 20-0 defeats for teams unable to play that it was wrecking the competition. I think they’ve made a mistake. Draconian measures (in LaLiga, you have to play if there are five first-team squad members available, you can only seek one postponement and teams lose the points the second time they have a mass outbreak) encourage clubs to demand the utmost caution from their players. Any level of caution is never going to be enough, of course, but the EuroLeague also allows fans in, albeit in restricted numbers. They’re also being let in in Segunda B: this weekend, there’ll be around 2,000 supporters at Riazor and none at Balaídos; a strange contrast.
Behind-closed-doors sport the only way to fight virus, I fear
This is because the top two divisions, which are run by LaLiga, have protocols that differ from Segunda B, where it’s down to each regional government. The third tier scarcely gets any TV revenue, it’s all gate receipts; so this is an attempt to give it some financial respite. In truth, spectators are now back at pretty much every event that isn’t a Primera or Segunda match, and I fear the only long-term way forward is what’s happening in these two leagues: complete shut-out. The coronavirus sneaks through every door that we leave ajar for it, and makes its nest in anyone in its path, be it Cristiano, Nikola Mirotic, or whoever. The priority has to be eradicating it and getting back to the old normality, because the new normality is the pits.