ONE GAME TOO MANY: SHOULD THE EUROS BE CANCELLED?
In the mire that is the Covid-19 pandemic, one of the only things that we have is escapism and for many that has come in the form of football.
Following your team and watching them fight for glory for 90 minutes every Saturday is the only way many of us have any break from the monogamy of lockdown, building up the fixtures more than usual. To say this isn’t a good reprieve is an understatement, and football has been a decent source of normality in these crazy times.
That is not to forget the financial implications that are surely important. Though many teams are suffering from having less matchday income, the ability to stream the games has meant that the football economy hasn’t completely collapsed and that lower league teams haven’t folded in the harsh environment.
These are all convincing arguments for domestic fixtures. I have to say that I am afraid they don’t extend to the Euros.
While any international competition is a delight to behold, and can surely grip a nation (for better or worse), but with most stuck inside their own homes, the thought of international competition may seem inflammatory to the little patience the public has for footballers.
There also is the very real concern of Covid. The virus, despite having several vaccines, is still prevalent within every country and has notable mutations that could prove even more deadly should they spread. The upturn in cases in the UK since December proves this to be the case. Any increase in cases and mutations would limit hospital space further and lead to more deaths.
This is obviously known, but is it worth the risk?
For the domestic games, it's a real toss-up as there is a reduced risk, due to less travel. And there is a real threat that the smaller clubs will go under without any games.
For the Euros, there is increased risk and the only people who seem gain are those big companies with sponsorship money invested.
There is also an ever increasing risk to the players themselves and not just from Covid-19. Since the end of last season, there has been an unprecedented congestion of games, with most teams playing twice a week, most weeks. The players simply need a rest. We are seeing increasing efforts from Premier League Managers to introduce winter breaks and extra subs. The last thing the players need is an unnecessary tournament.
I will be hurt at the loss of the Euros. And it simply will be unfair to some teams that have qualified (perhaps they should automatically qualify for 2024?) but it seems for the sake of the players, the public and football itself that the Euros should be cancelled.