Premier League matches postponed, stadiums empty, schedule under scrutiny: Covid-19 threatens European football again

Spurs have already had three postponed matches.  Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters

The euphoria of restoring the crowded stands since Euro 2020 has given way to anxiety in Europe: after months of lull regarding the spread of Covid-19 in football on the continent, contagion is once again a concern, especially in Europe. Germany and England. On Thursday, Tottenham and Leicester’s match, scheduled for 4:30pm, was canceled due to an outbreak in the Foxes. This is the fourth postponement of the English Premier League football matches this week.

to update: On Thursday afternoon, the matches Southampton x Brentford, Watford x Crystal Palace and West Ham United x Norwich, which would have taken place on Saturday, have been postponed, as well as Everton x Leicester scheduled for Sunday. With that said, there are already five games for the weekend that have been cancelled.

And according to the newspaper “The Guardian”, the league tried to avoid further postponement, but Leicester proved that it did not have a sufficient number of players to join the match, given the departure of those who tested positive. The club closed its training center for 48 hours in an attempt to avoid aggravating the situation. Tottenham had also had cases of the disease in their squad, and the match against Rennes, by the League of Conferences, saw 13 positive cases cancelled. Minutes after the decision, the league also announced the rescheduling of Manchester United’s match against Brighton, which will take place on Saturday.

Tottenham have already had three postponed matches. Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images via Reuters

Throughout the week, the Premier League has postponed the matches Manchester United, Brentford, Tottenham, Brighton, Burnley and Watford. At the Burnley match, the rescheduling was announced a few hours before the match and the visiting fans had already arrived in town. Four other matches from the lower divisions were also cancelled. Intensive care, such as the use of masks and social distancing, is being resumed in clubs across the country. On Thursday afternoon, Chelsea and Everton took to the field even as the Blues discovered cases in their squad.

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A statement issued by the Prime Minister on Thursday said: “We are aware that a large number of clubs are experiencing an outbreak of the Covid-19 virus and that the league’s intention is to continue the tour where it is as safe as possible.” However, clubs are said to be pushing for a general break from British football until January 8, according to the BBC.

Brentford coach Thomas Frank has defended the vaccination and called on the country’s football authorities to halt the weekend’s tour. The club has detected 13 positive cases of Covid-19 on its list.

“Cases are bouncing in clubs. Everyone deals with it, it’s a general problem. Postponing the Premier League Cup round and matches will give everyone at least a week to clean everything up and do whatever is necessary in the training centres.

The UK is experiencing a new wave of Covid-19 cases, which authorities believe is linked to the omicron variant. On Thursday, the region recorded 78,610 new cases per day, a record number since the beginning of the epidemic. There, 69% of the population is vaccinated with both doses. Among Premier League players, 81% have already received at least one dose, a number that jumped after local press revealed resistance to immunization among league players.

The UK faces a new Covid-19 outbreak.  In the photo, the fan is grafted Photo: HANNAH MCKAY / REUTERS
The UK faces a new Covid-19 outbreak. In the photo, the fan is grafted Photo: HANNAH MCKAY / REUTERS

In the third and fourth divisions of the country, 59% of athletes have already received both doses, but a portion of 25% have already declared that they are not interested in receiving the vaccine. The International Football Association (EFL), the league responsible for the two divisions, has announced the opening of a red protocol for teams, which will need to expand prevention measures in their training and in match logistics.

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It should be noted that English football is 10 days away from Boxing Day, the traditional date on which many clubs enter the field simultaneously immediately after Christmas. Last season, history had empty booths. In the league, December is usually one of the busiest in terms of the calendar.

Closed doors in Germany

Bayern Munich crushed Barcelona 3-0 on the eighth day, in its last commitments to the group stage of the Champions League, with the doors of the Allianz Arena closed to the fans. This measure was one of the restrictions imposed by the authorities in the region of Bavaria after the outbreak of the new disease in the country.

The region has been one of the hardest hit by the new cases, and both Bayern and Augsburg, the biggest domestic clubs, will have to host their matches without fans until at least the end of the year. In other areas, the public presence of the authorities was limited.

– The high traffic of flights in which the clubs participate will be irresponsible for the time being. Football is a role model. “We need to reduce contacts where possible,” said Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soder.

Bayern hosted Barcelona with the Allianz Arena closed.  Photo: Christoph Stach/AFP
Bayern hosted Barcelona with the Allianz Arena closed. Photo: Christoph Stach/AFP

Germany has practically the same proportion of the entire vaccinated population as the UK – 69.9% – but continues to battle a portion of the population that refuses to receive vaccinations. Local authorities have implemented measures to restrict the movement of unvaccinated people and reduce transmission of the disease.

In the most emblematic case for domestic sport, midfielder Kimmich, one of the key players of Bayern and the German national team, stood up against the immunization agent and refused to receive him. The player ended up contracting Covid-19 and a subsequent lung problem, which will leave him out of action until January. The athlete ended up giving up and stated that he would get the vaccine.

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