GAA, soccer and rugby fans are all hoping to see some light on the horizon

GAA, soccer and rugby fans are all hoping to see some light on the horizon
A view of the super moon near Croghan Hill in Offaly recently. Picture: INPHO/James Crombie

AT the moment there are few certainties in life.

Today is Thursday. It’s April 23 and, sadly, we’re still in 2020.

Not that the day and date matter much because everything seems to be rolling into one, mundane following the mundane. The absence of live sport affects hundreds of millions around the globe and the prospect of a return anytime soon is quite remote, alas.

Three main sports, the GAA here, soccer in Europe and rugby on a world scale, had their say in various situations in the past few days.

The first two delved into the prospect of playing behind closed doors while World Rugby Chairman, Bill Beaumont, conceded that the lucrative international season was doomed.

The GAA said the prospect of playing behind closed doors had not been seriously considered at this stage.

Alan Milton, its Director of Communications, was speaking on Today FM earlier in the week.

He said he was hopeful that games could be played in 2020, but also threw the ball back into the Government’s court.

At the launch of A Season of Sundays were Jim Gavin, Ciaran Kilkenny and GAA Director of Communications Alan Milton. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
At the launch of A Season of Sundays were Jim Gavin, Ciaran Kilkenny and GAA Director of Communications Alan Milton. Picture: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Milton said the health minister, Simon Harris, has a responsibility to ‘outline what he sees are threats and realities that all citizens of Ireland have to face.’

“I think it would be a profound decision for the GAA to take if it has to take it.

“But, I think it would only come into sharp focus if it means no championship at all or a championship behind closed doors.

“I think it’s a very different conversation to be had with our players if that was an ask of them. It might be an unfair ask on amateur sportspeople, depending on what their personal circumstances are.

“It hasn’t been considered in any serious way but I think it’s something you’d have to engage experts on."

Listeners heard that club games were ‘far likelier to return earlier’ on the basis of smaller crowds even though players might have justifiable reservations about such a prospect.

Dealing with amateurs contrasts sharply with those in paid ranks like soccer and rugby players as governing bodies come to terms with the problem of no sport.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said leagues across Europe were ready to return to action behind closed doors in a bid to limit the damage caused by the coronavirus.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire
UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin. Picture: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Football leagues have been suspended since mid-March due to the pandemic, but the head of European football believes that playing would be an important step towards a return to normal life and avoid heavy financial losses for leagues.

“I believe there are options that can allow us to restart championships and to complete them,” Ceferin said in an interview with an Italian newspaper.

“We may have to resume without spectators, but the most important thing, I think, is playing games.

“It is easy to say that we cannot complete the season. The impact would be terrible for clubs and leagues. Better to play behind closed doors than not at all.

“In such hard times, it would bring happiness to people and a certain sense of normality even if the games can only be seen on TV.”

European soccer has already got a taste of empty stadia after Paris St Germain played Borrusia Dortmund in the Champions League at a deserted Parc des Princes nearly six weeks ago.

The coronavirus swept through France, but it still failed to stop thousands of Paris supporters from congregating outside the ground and social distancing wasn’t observed.

Meanwhile, Beaumont said it was a ‘distinct possibility’ that the international rugby calendar could be scrapped this year because of the pandemic as unions all over the world struggle with their finances.

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