Is International Football During a Pandemic the Right Path?

As results for friendlies, qualifiers and other football competitions during the November 2020 international break stream in, another unpleasant stat is coming through. There is a notable spike in the number of positive covid-19 tests among players on international duty.

Mohamed Salah and Mohamed Elneny tested positive while playing for Egypt. A few days earlier, it was reported that Croatia captain Domagoj Vida received a coronavirus positive result after playing the entire first half against Turkey. There have been cases in the Brazil camp too.

These and other cases have led to a debate whether it is actually necessary-or right- to have international football running during a pandemic.

Second Covid-19 Wave

In all fairness, it appears that the second wave of the virus is sweeping. Countries like Germany, which seemed to have the virus under control, are suffering. Therefore, it is right to say that this is not just a football thing but that something that is affecting society in general.

That said, the very fact that the new infections are happening across the board might be the reason to halt international fixtures for the moment. A surge means that there is a need for more containment measures. Continuing to have international breaks and matches is the exact opposite of containment.

In a single call up, a national team can have players from up to ten clubs from across different countries. The risk, therefore, goes up significantly for these players to spread infections among themselves and across the leagues.

There is also the commercial aspect of these breaks. The Euros need to take place, as well as competitions in Africa, South America and other continents. All these need to take place in time for the World Cup.

To achieve all this and still maintain safety, it would be wise to have the leagues run without a break then have a longer-than-usual mid-season break during which qualifiers and other competitions can be played within one window.