Covid-19 (Coronavirus) has caused havoc across the globe and football has not escaped the effects of the outbreak. All levels of football have been affected by this virus: from local to international; and from amateur to professional. At Koforidua Technical University, where I work, staff members meet on the University field to play football every Sunday. It has however become necessary for them to suspend playing football on the University field in order to observe the social distancing rule.
A number of high-profile owners, coaches and footballers have tested positive for the virus and this forced various football governing agencies and associations to take drastic measures to halt the spread of the virus.
Leagues and competitions all over the world have been forced to postpone games; others have also nullified their leagues. The Union of European Football Association (UEFA) has postponed its major competition (Euro 2020) scheduled to be held this year in June. Another very important sporting event that has been adjourned till July next year is the Olympic Games.
On the local scene, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) had to call off the local Premier League when the country recorded its first 2 cases.
The Kurt Okraku administration which assumed office in October 2019, created a nationwide campaign to win back Ghanaian’s love for local football, with the famous hash tag #BringBackTheLove. Stadia attendance improved tremendously; social media interests peaked and rivalry between local teams rekindled. This progress made by the Okraku administration has been blown away by the stubborn Covid-19.
European teams that have big sponsorships for their clubs are currently struggling to keep up with the wages and bonuses of its staff during this pandemic. Obviously, the situation in Ghana is worse because none of the leagues in Ghana has a headline sponsor.
The Ghana League Clubs Association chairman, Kudjoe Fianoo, together with the Ghana Football Association is to engage the Government about lending support to clubs in these challenging times.
Football lovers are crying for the return of the game since their weekends have not been the same. And a majority of them can not wait for the various leagues to commence. Meanwhile, European football leagues have been given a May 25th deadline to inform the governing body UEFA of their plans to restart their domestic competitions.
Footballers, have been forced to find ways to occupy themselves during this unexpected break. Footballers, both male and female, are involved with the juggle toilet paper challenge. Players trying to stay fit during this lockdown are involved in personal training exercises. Others are granting interviews on Twitter and Instagram. Some well-known English Primer League players such as Diogo Jota, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Raheem Sterling and our own Ghanaian international, Christian Atsu, just to mention a few, engaged in a football video game competition called FIFA 20. The competition was transmitted live on social media for fans to enjoy.
The media, on the other hand, have really struggled for content because all sporting activities have been put on hold, leaving fans frustrated. The media are now showing and discussing old matches some tracking back to the 60s.
It is very clear in these difficult times that life without football is not easy for stakeholders of the game. Not only are we all praying and hoping that the game that brings people and nations together should return soon but also hoping that the world will come together to continue to fight till we kick Covid-19 out for good.