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How Covid-19 Has Disrupted International Football

The year 2020 has been a weird one so far, but it has been most notably impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The virus has infected over a million people, causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands globally. 

The football community felt the wrath of the virus and is still experiencing its effects. The 2019/2020 season was suspended in March, and while many leagues across Europe plus the Champions League and the Europa League were able to finish last season, the Eredivisie (Netherlands) and Ligue 1 (France) were unable to finish their season. Millions of pounds were lost from the time the game was suspended from clubs to broadcasters, and spectators have not returned to stadia, despite plans being made to bring them back in a limited capacity. 

Luckily, club football has been able to return as well as the international game, with the international break currently in effect. Also, playoffs for the European Championships next year have taken place, UEFA Nations League is taking place, and international friendlies have been played including Nigeria’s 1-0 defeat to Algeria.

Despite the efforts made to get football back into our screens, the virus has disrupted something that will have a massive effect on the game over the next few years, and that is the football calendar. This year was to be a busy year. The UEFA European Championship and the Copa America were supposed to take place this past summer including the summer Olympics in Tokyo. 

The fact that football needs to do more for the well-being of players has been a topic of debate over the few past years, especially from club managers like Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp. Now, the coronavirus has changed the football landscape and it is expected that the 2020/2021 season will be short and compressed but how will that impact the international game?

The European Championship and the Copa America will take place next year as the Copa America does not have qualifiers but invite two nations outside of South America while the Euros have already completed with playoffs games set to be completed by November. However, qualifiers for the African Cup of Nations have been on hold since November last year with the competition postponed to 2022 while the process for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers has been disrupted with South America (COMMEBOL) just playing their first set of fixtures, Africa (CAF) is on the second round of qualifiers, Asia (AFC) is on the second round of qualifiers while Europe (UEFA) is yet to do the draw of qualifying groups. That’s not to mention the safety of the players as constant travelling could leave them vulnerable to catching the virus.

Football has been able to recover a bit but the international game is important in keeping the sport alive and the coronavirus has not only disrupted the game but the international game as well.

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