Football on Field

The Premier League and Other Football Sporting Events Affected by the Pandemic

The novel coronavirus has killed more than 348,000 people globally, and because of it, sporting events have also been affected. The number of confirmed cases worldwide has increased to more than 5.5 million. This has caused major sporting events to either be cancelled or postponed.  

What It Means for the Premier League

But, despite the worrying situation, many have also remained hopeful and determined to continue their operations. The Premier League, for instance, has been intent on a June restart. The sporting event has been suspended since 13 March because of the pandemic. As England slowly starts to recover and with strict precautions in place, they want to be able to finish the event.

Liverpool, which is one of the main contenders in the event, was at the top of the season when it suddenly got postponed. They just needed two wins in the Premier League, and they would have been able to bag their first top-flight title since 1990.

According to an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live, Jordan Henderson, captain of Liverpool, stated: “When you go back, it is a bit different with the type of training, getting used to the ball again, longer passing and shooting and the sharpness of twisting and turning, the change of direction, you need to get used to it. After a few weeks of full training, we will be right back where we left off, hopefully.”

This is in relation to the return of their training last week. Liverpool and other clubs have been training in small groups. There are strict protocols in place, and Henderson also said that the measures are “amazing” and that the players feel “safe.”

Other Sporting Events Affected in the World, According to Al Jazeera

  • After several weeks of postponement, South Korea’s football league season restarted on May 8. Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors, the reigning champions, beat FA Cup holders Suwon Bluewings by 1-0 in an empty World Cup Stadium in Jeonju.
  • In the United States, the MLS, which is a top-tier football league, extended its postponement until at least June 8. This is because there were still many confirmed coronavirus cases.
  • The Confederation of African Football also announced the postponement of the African Champions League semi-finals last April 12. It was to take place in May.
  • The schedule for the Nations League Finals of the Confederation of North, Central American, and Caribbean Association Football, was from June 4 to June 7. But it has been suspended. It will take place for a later date.
  • The Russian Football Union suspended all competitions such as the Russian league at a meeting on March 17. 
  • The Bundesliga resumed its season last May 16 after the two-month hiatus in Germany.
  • The South American Football Confederation, postponed the Copa America event until 2021. It was to take place from June 12 to July 12 in Colombia and Argentina.
  • UEFA postponed the EURO 2020 tournament until 2021. It will now take place from June 11 to July 11, 2021. The major sporting event was to take place from June 12 to July 12, 2020, in 12 nations across the continent.
  • On April 1, UEFA also suspended all matches in the Europa League and Champions League “until further notice.”
  • FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation postponed the Asian World Cup qualifying matches that were supposed to take place in March and June.
  • The Asian Champions League matches have been suspended and moved back to September.
  • Ajax would not be declared champion due to the postponement of the Dutch football league.

Major sporting events may have been stopped all across the world, but it does not mean that it would be for a long time. Football fans and bettors can still support their favorite teams, as many associations are doing their best to continue the events. 

Bettors and sports traders can still turn to sports feed to check out information and data for the football teams and players that they support.

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FIFA to Iran: Lift Women’s Ban on Football Stadiums

FIFA President Gianni Infantino has spoken—banning women from watching a football match is “unacceptable.” He called for the ban removal.

The driving force behind the call to end the ban was a sad one. Recently, news about a woman football fan, Sahar Khodayari, who set herself afire after being caught sneaking into the stadium dressed as a man. She self-immolated upon learning that she would spend six months in prison for what she did.

This is a clear violation of FIFA’s Article 3, a discriminatory practice policy, that states:

Discrimination of any kind against any country, private person or group of people on account of race, skin colour, ethnic, national or social origin, gender, language, religion, political opinion or any other opinion, wealth, birth or any other status, sexual orientation or any other reason is strictly prohibited and punishable by suspension or expulsion.

The ban started shortly after the Islamic Revolution of 1979.

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW) have already called upon the attention of FIFA as the worldwide governing body of football initiate ending the ban.

However, as Infantino noted, FIFA can only hope that the Iranian government would consider allowing women to watch football on stadiums and other public places such as bars and cafes.

Infantino himself has been contacting the Iranian Federation and Iranian authorities regarding the matter. FIFA administration has also done so repeatedly in the past.

In June, FIFA also sent the Iranian Football Federation (FFIRI) a letter requesting a timeline to allow women to buy tickets and watch the World Cup qualifiers happening on October 10. 

It is not clear whether the Federation has already responded to the letter or not.

In 2018, women were allowed to participate in a viewing event to celebrate Iran’s participation in the World Cup. The viewing event happened inside Tehran’s Azadi Stadium, and where Khodayari also tried sneaking in March this year.

While this may be seen as progressive, Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director of Amnesty International in the Middle East, asserts that this was just a publicity stunt. There’s nothing meaningful behind the event as it did not lift the ban on women altogether.

Today, Iran was the only country to implement the ban still. Saudi Arabia lifted its ban in the latter part of 2017. It came after a historic royal decree that also allowed women to drive. 

It is infuriating enough knowing that the stadiums in Iran would welcome women spectators of other nationalities if the Iranian football club has a game against a Spanish or French club, for instance.

Despite this, the statistics are staggering. First, Iran has the biggest football fan base in Asia. Second, before the Revolution, Iranian women were free to watch football games on stadiums. Third, female fans were also not allowed to watch at cafes. 

The second and third issues would stop if the Federation and Iranian government would follow the steps taken by the Saudi Arabian government.

While at it, it was worth noting that women in neighbouring countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Turkey, Lebanon, and Algeria allowed women to watch on stadiums. However, they also experience cultural barriers.

These women showing passion for football is seen as a sign of masculinity. Thus, female football fans chose to watch a game in secrecy – at home usually.

 

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