European Soccer Was a Model For All Sports During the Pandemic
Updated: Oct 2, 2020
As we enter the final stages of the Champions League and Europa League, it is time to reflect on how well the restart of soccer in Europe has gone. Over the last three months, we have seen a compelling finish to the season, while nearly no players tested positive for COVID-19. It is a reflection of how well Europe as a whole has handled the pandemic.
Throughout Europe, we have seen extremely entertaining soccer, despite the circumstances. We witnessed a battle for the title in Germany that saw Bayern edge out their eighth consecutive Bundesliga championship. We saw a highly competitive finish to the English Premier League season, where the race for the top four and the relegation battle remained undecided until the final day. We saw Real Madrid overtake Barcelona to win the La Liga title, in what could prove to be a critical season for both clubs. Finally, we are witnessing an incredibly entertaining finish to the Champions League, where we saw perhaps the biggest humiliation in the history of club soccer in Bayern Munich's 8-2 win over Barcelona.
However, most importantly, there was never a big scare that the season could be derailed by positive COVID-19 tests, as players and clubs in all major leagues acted responsibly throughout the entire restart. Players and coaches adhered to strict social distancing and public health guidelines, and were tested extensively throughout the restart. Additionally, fans largely supported their teams from home, adhering to local officials' instructions to stay away from stadiums.
We also saw soccer take an active role in the Black Lives Matter movement. Players around Europe wore shirts bearing social justice messages under their jerseys, and kneeled prior to kickoff for every game in England. Players became active supporters of the movement online, and some, such as Aston Villa's Tyrone Mings, participated in the protests themselves. It was admirable to see the sport come together in this manner, and see the players become leaders during a time of potentially great social change.
It can be said that sports provide a diversion from real life; however, sports are also a reflection of society. While American sports have struggled to restart due to our country's haphazard response to COVID-19, European soccer has successfully finished its season, combining entertaining action on the field with strong leadership off the field. European Soccer set a strong example for how to manage sports amid the global pandemic.