The Soccer Community’s Response to COVID-19

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SEATTLE, Washington — With COVID-19 affecting the entire world, professional sports have had to make significant changes. The soccer community’s response to COVID-19 has been one of adaptation and support to help combat the global pandemic. Some of Europe’s biggest leagues have set in place five safety measures to bring the soccer back in the safest way possible. Furthermore, players are donating money to help fight the virus.

5 Safety Measures for Players

For a short amount of time, all professional sports had stopped. But, as it became evident that COVID-19 would be around longer than anticipated, many professional sports implemented safety measures so they could continue playing. Here are a few of those precautions.

  1. In Germany, additional team buses will transport players in the Bundesliga team in order to ensure social distancing among players.
  2. In the English Premier League and Spanish La Liga, substitutions per match are increased from three to five. The number of available substitutions in England increased from seven to nine.
  3. Everyone not on the field is required to wear a mask in Germany, Spain and England except for the manager so he can yell instructions to his team. In addition, players being substituted from a match are required to wear masks.
  4. Leagues have restricted the number of people inside the stadium for all leagues to only the most essential, including limiting the number to a maximum of 300 in England. In the first German league match, only 213 individuals were inside the stadium.
  5. The three leagues also have extra disinfection protocols put in place, including the disinfection of the game balls, “corner flags, goalposts and the substitution board.”

The soccer community’s response to COVID-19 not only includes changes leagues have made to resume play but also individual players have also stepped up to make an impact in either their local or native communities.

Notable Names Aiding in the COVID-19 Response

  • One of the game’s biggest stars, Lionel Messi, stepped up to help in the fight against COVID-19. He has donated €1 million ($1.1 million). Messi’s donation will be split between a hospital Clinic Barcelona and a medical center in Argentina where the player is from. The money will go towards treating infected patients as well as for research in fighting COVID-19.
  • Another big name in soccer is Christiano Ronaldo. He also donated €1 million. He is dividing his donation, along with that of his agent Jorge Mendes, “between hospitals in Lisbon and Porto” Portugal. The money will fund two intensive care units in the Hospital de Santa Maria in Lisbon.
  • Former soccer player and current Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is donating €1 million to the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation and Medical College of Barcelona to help the fight against COVID-19 in Spain.
  • In France, the soccer club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) has partnered with Secours Populaire Francais, an organization dedicated to fighting poverty, to help with France’s COVID-19 response. PSG donated donating €100,000 to help fight the COVID-19 outbreak. It will help provide Personal Protective Equipment for frontline workers and access to educational materials for school children. It will also help fund soup kitchens and meals to the elderly.

Marcus Rashford’s Impact on the UK Government

Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford is one soccer player who made perhaps the biggest impact in his community. With schools closing early in England, the U.K. government was set to end a program that fed school children in need over the summer. Rashford appealed to the U.K. Government in support of a continued meal plan for children in need. He wrote an open letter to the government calling on them to end child poverty and hunger in the U.K. Thanks to an online campaign that Rashford led, the U.K. government-backed down on the plan to end the meals for school children in need. Rashford helped secure £120 million to help feed children who relied on school meals to eat. The initiative helped reach more than 200,000 children across the country.

Rashford growing up in England relied on school meals and breakfast clubs among other programs while his single mother of five worked tirelessly to put food on the table. Thanks to his mother’s efforts and food programs like the one he helped save, Rashford is able to live out his dream as a forward for Manchester United and the England National Team.

The soccer community’s response to COVID-19 shows that we are all in this together. Despite COVID-19 keeping fans and players apart, it has brought out the best in some athletes. It also shows what star athletes can accomplish when they choose to use their platform to help make a change.

Zachary Laird
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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