When can professional football resume?
While many European countries are discussing when and under what conditions football matches can be played again, the Netherlands has become the first major football nation to cancel the professional football season. The clubs there are protesting and one of them is even threatening to sue. Commentators discuss whether protection against Covid-19 is more important than football's function in society.
Cheering on the team is about more than fun
Football has a key social function, The Guardian points out:
“Being a fan is, however, not just a personal obsession. It also draws you into a collective project with thousands of other fans. In many towns, from Barnsley to Sunderland, football clubs are often one of most important social institutions. They provide not just a sense of civic pride, but also a kind of collective hope or aspiration. And in recent years, as wider political and social projects and identities have disintegrated, so the sense of solidarity provided by institutions such as football clubs has become more important.”
Health comes first
Spain's professional league has worked out a plan for training and matches to be quickly resumed. There are more important things than this, El País stresses:
“Firstly, and of highest priority, is that it should be the government that decides when and how to restart the games - and this should be done solely on the basis of health considerations; other arguments don't count. As long as the pandemic continues to paralyse entire sectors of the economy there is no reason to risk a setback by prematurely returning to normality in football.”
Games in empty stadiums above all about money
The clubs' dependence on advertising money is forcing them to play ghost games, writes the Neue Zürcher Zeitung:
“When promoters talk about marketing football, television is ranked as the top medium. That's where the big money in the big leagues comes from - over 50 percent of revenues in the Premier League, over 40 in Italy and Spain, over a third in Germany. ... The fact that the German Bundesliga is increasing the pressure for ghost games can be explained by its dependence on media partners. Ghost games are better than nothing at all, those in charge argued at a media conference on Thursday. Whether the clientele will stay with the team for weeks on end and the ghostly atmosphere in the arenas will pay off firstly for the television companies and secondly for the clubs is an open question.”