In the end, everything exploded in a grotesque, absurd, inconceivable farce. In the biggest game South America has to offer – Brazil vs. Argentina, police and officials broke into the field to arrest and expel players from the country. Nothing that ever came close to that happened, and reality surpassed that imagination.
Here you have footballers – Emiliano Martinez, Giovanni Lou Celso, Christian Romero and Emiliano Boandia – who took part in games on English soil in front of the whole world, then allegedly lied in an epidemiological inquiry and claimed they were not in England two weeks before arriving in Brazil to avoid isolation. Here you have officials who did not notice this in time, but were determined enough to punish the rebellious quartet immediately. They arrived at a hotel in Sao Paulo, and were told that the Argentine delegation had already left for the stadium. So they drove there, got stuck in a traffic jam, arrived after the opening whistle, did not respond to the persuasions of the association heads, galloped to the grass and blew up the tackle. It could have been a fantastic theme for the hallucinatory comedy, but it happened in reality.
And here is a place to stop and say – we needed this disgrace in order to internalize the real default that has been going on for a long time. The attempt by FIFA, UEFA, Conambul and the rest of the associations to manage international football as if we were in a routine situation, without a global epidemic, is a grotesque, absurd and inconceivable farce in itself. At the end of the 2019/20 season, when the Corona had just entered our lives, dramatic steps were taken, including stopping leagues for long weeks, postponing the European Championship and Copa America, and reducing the final stages of the Champions League and Europa League, concentrating games in specific countries. But since the start of the 2020/21 season, it seems that the authorities do not take the exceptional circumstances into account at all, and are determined to go head to head with the original plans, while creating countless health, logistical – and even moral – problems.
When it comes to groups, it is possible in principle to understand the way of thinking, that a prolonged cessation of activity or a material damage to it will lead to the economic collapse of clubs and the destruction of the industry. In order to continue to function, teams must play – and this is true, albeit to a lesser extent, of international enterprises. This does not mean that all qualifying tournaments must take place using the home.away method, and one can also consider holding the final stages in one country as was done in 2020. At the beginning of the year we saw embarrassing events, for example when Benfica “hosted” Arsenal in Rome, and then Arsenal “hosted” the rematch against Benfica in Piraeus. This is not okay, but one can understand a strategy whereby it is important to preserve the existing one as much as possible. This is not the case with the national team, by any means.
National team football is not an essential source of livelihood for players, and it even dramatically impairs the functioning of the clubs that are vital needed to defend in this sensitive period. From a financial point of view, they benefit mainly from the fat regional associations such as UEFA and Konambul, and above all FIFA. The purpose of these super organizations is not to make cash but to promote the game around the world, and they should have exercised discretion and assisted as much as possible in creating a sane game board, which also takes into account health considerations. FIFA, UEFA and Conambul had to work together to reduce the negative impact of football on the spread of the epidemic, and this includes, among other things, conveying correct messages that footballers are above the law. Unfortunately, and not at all surprisingly, the complete opposite happened. Authorities care only about themselves, beep at the environment, belittle players, clubs and fans, and create a hallucinatory and hallucinatory reality.
Take, for example, Euro 2020. The idea of holding it across the continent, from London to Baku, was very problematic in the first place. He unnecessarily tapped the national teams, journalists and fans, and did not allow for the creation of a pure football celebration, which can be achieved when hosting the tournament in one country, or at most two. The insistence on walking headlong into the wall and sticking to the original plan in the epidemic era was absurd. Is it possible to change? for sure. The fact is that it was the cities that wanted to maintain the health rules and did not commit to allowing a massive influx of fans to the stands – Dublin and Bilbao – were simply removed from the list of hosts and replaced. Instead of encouraging the requisite caution, the UEFA gave an advantage to the regimes that underestimated Corona, led by Hungary, where the stadium was filled to capacity.
The politicians of the host countries put enormous pressure on the UEFA to bend them. In the UK there were strict isolation procedures in the summer, but the European Union strongly threatened to deprive Wembley of hosting the semi.finals and transfer the rights to Budapest. Without isolation, and the government succumbed to this, which led to sharp public criticism, and rightly so.
Even greater public criticism was in Brazil, when President Jair Bolsonaro approved the transfer of the latest Copa America hosting. The tournament was supposed to take place in Colombia and Argentina, but they had to give up – mostly for Corona’s reasons. In Brazil the epidemic is raging even more, but it seems that the current regime is making efforts to spread the disease instead of stopping it. And so the Copa America – an excellent, happy and generally fun tournament – was held in front of empty stands, with strong opposition to its existence. Instead of insisting on keeping it, it would have been possible to hold the postponed World Cup qualifiers at the beginning of the year, thus saving the problems that arose at the start of the new European season.
In the current game schedule, FIFA has put the clubs in an unbearable situation. Shortly after the start of the season, they were required to release the players to different countries, some of them red for Corona. To complete the missing games in the qualifiers.In view of the requirements to enter flight isolation to and from certain countries, the business became bizarre, and clubs tried to figure out how players’ travels would affect them upon their return.In England, the teams issued a joint statement not allowing their stars to fly to red countries. The players found themselves, therefore, in a difficult dilemma – whether to prefer their livelihood or loyalty to the flag and homeland? Muhammad Salah, for example, missed the home game against Angola in the qualifiers because Egypt is red, but joined his team in Gabon because it is orange.
This is not possible in a normal world, and it is clear as day that an urgent perceptual change is required until the epidemic passes. It was clear to everyone except FIFA, UEFA and Conambul who continued to use their immense power to impose their desires on everyone, and to continue in this theater of absurdity. Well, the incident in Sao Paulo may even cause them to return to sanity. She is outrageous, extremely irrational, and has made headlines too big a right to ignore and get back on the agenda. Understand the seriousness of the situation, stop abusing players and teams, and find right and wise ways to resolve the crisis – otherwise all world football will go into isolation.
Follow Yochin on Facebook