THE short-term future of football rests on the success of the return of the Bundesliga tomorrow night and to see if the German league has found the solutions to playing football during this pandemic.
The world will be watching as the Bundesliga attempts to become the first major European league to resume since the shutdown of leagues over two-months ago.
The Bundesliga has nominated itself to be the guinea pig for the rest of the leagues and if the German league can show that football can be resumed safely then presumably other major leagues will follow.
We have been starved of live football for over two months and are desperate for the beloved game to return in some sort of capacity even if that means there has to be some changes – most notable, behind closed door games.
Watching the Paris St-Germain and Borussia Dortmund play their Champions League last 16 second leg match back in March behind closed doors, it felt like I was watching a friendly and that the outcome of the game did not matter.
If football feels strange for supporters to watch without fans, imagine how it must feel for players to play in. It will take time for players to adjust and tempo of matches might seem like friendlies to begin with.
If, the Bundesliga works, it will be a PR masterstroke from the DFL (Deutsche Fubball Liga).
The DFL will be seen as the association that saved the 2109/20 football season throughout Europe.
However, if the Bundesliga were to fail, then questions will be asked why the league returned so soon?
And consequently, might result in the cancellation of other leagues resuming.
There are so much guidelines being put in place to ensure the Bundesliga can resume and I really do hope that it is a success but I’m very sceptical and if I’m being honest, I can’t see there being a positive outcome.
So many measures are being put in place to maintain social distancing, yet for 90 minutes, sticking to strict guidelines are going to be forgotten and players will be able to make physical contact with one another.
Extra rules are being put in place during the game to try and limit the spread of the covid-19 virus but when they are in the middle of intense competition, players are going to forget that they shouldn’t celebrate with their teammates and aren’t supposed to spit during a game.
At the beginning, maybe, players will be cautious and remember the rules but as time goes on, players will innocently forget that they can’t shout in the referee’s face or that they should only use their elbows, not their hands, when using and elevator in the ground.
There might not be fans allowed into the stadium but as we seen with the PSG and Dortmund game, a problem could occur will large gatherings of supporters outside of the ground. Football fans are like no other, they are fanatics.
They won’t believe that they are doing any harm by trying to catch a glimpse of their team arriving to the ground in three separate buses.
Tomorrow night, is a moment in history, never before has football had circumstances such as these and supporters will want to be part of that history and witness just how different this matchday experience is compare to a usual one.
Fans turning up in their vast numbers is just one of the problems that could occur.
Players are expected to stay five metres apart and wear masks when arriving to games.
This shouldn’t be an issue because players will be very aware that cameras will be on them and will be alert to the rules.
There are measures to social distance when in the dressing room and I would imagine two of the three hygiene officers will be in both teams dressing rooms (one in each) but players will have arguments and will get in each other’s faces breaking the guidelines put in place whether there is a hygiene officer in the dressing room or not.
These arguments will frequently happen and will that be enough to call a halt to these games, especially if more players contract the virus.
Drinking bottles will be a big issue. How often do we see it during a game that a player runs to the side-line, picks a bottle up and just throws it back onto the ground?
Yes, players will have their own individual bottles but they will forget and I guarantee you a player will drink from a teammates bottle and that will probably cause uproar.
Of course, players aren’t the only people putting themselves at risks and what would happen if match officials contracted the virus.
Referees are a different association to players and aren’t paid anywhere near what a football does to be taking such a risk. The Referee’s Union could easily advise its members to stop officiating if to many of their members contract the virus.
If the Bundesliga can be resumed safely then it gives hope for the resumption of the other top leagues in Europe to recommence.
For any League of Ireland fans thinking that a successful return of the Bundesliga will mean that our domestic league will resume anytime soon, are sadly mistaken.
The resumption of football is going to cost a large sum of money, money that the League of Ireland does not have.