Lionel Messi during individual training at FC Barcelona on May 8 as La Liga executes a multi-stage plan for the return of football (Pic: FCB).
Lionel Messi says he would rather not think about contracting Covid-19 as Spainish football looks for a swift return to complete the season.
Last week Messi and his FC Barcelona teammates returned to training -- albeit individual sessions -- following La Liga’s four-phase guidelines for returning to activity.
Also Read | PIO Hue and Cry Begins Again in Indian Football as Fortunes of National Team Slide
There are many players who have registered concerns over resumption of games amidst the pandemic, but Messi insists returning to playing matches is as risky as leaving the house for any other reasons.
“There’s a risk of infection everywhere, when you leave your house there’s a risk, so I think we shouldn’t think too much about it because if you do you won’t want to go anywhere,” Messi told Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo.
“But we must understand that it’s essential we comply with the protocols and follow the prevention measures as much as we can. Returning to training is the first step but we shouldn’t get complacent and we must take all precautions necessary.”
German Football Takes Step Into Unknown
The German Football League has had to present an exceptionally detailed plan of measures to obtain approval from Chancellor Angela Merkel and the 16 state leaders to restart the Bundesliga this weekend.
Christian Seifert, CEO of Bundesliga has cautioned that the matches behind closed doors will "look and feel different".
“I'm calling it 'flying blind',” Hertha Berlin coach Bruno Labbadia said. "I will try to behave in a socially acceptable way in the (coaching) zone," he added.
However, Bundesliga is all set to attract a large number of fans via television, resuming after a two-month shutdown.
"With the Bundesliga as the only league to be broadcast on TV, I expect we will have an audience of a billion," Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told SportBild magazine on Wednesday.
‘Goals Behind the Curtain Better Than No Goals’
With the Bundesliga all set to kickoff later today, with a Ruhr derby between Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04, Dortmund managing director Carsten Cramer created a schism over the resumption of games while speaking at a webinar.
Also Read | Lockdown Tales From Cricket: Shikha Pandey Looks At the Bigger Picture
“It's part of our DNA and part of our political system that we accept decisions by the government, so we fully understand their decision to lockdown the country. Now, all of us are relieved that football is coming back on this weekend, although we know that people have many more concerns than just football,” he said.
“If football can be a part of coming back to normal life, I think we must take this responsibility,” he added. “We are relieved, happy might be too euphoric, because without the restart, not only Dortmund but the Bundesliga would be in a really big problem.”
Talking about playing behind closed doors, Cramer said, “Football and spectators, football and supporters, that's a fit you never can split but there is a German idiom : 'It's not a wishing concert'. We would never prefer to play without spectators but in a crisis like this, without any alternative, goals behind the curtain are better than no goals at all.”
Joseba Beitia Hopes to Play at Mohun Bagan Again
One of Mohun Bagan’s key players in their I-League victory this season, Joseba Beitia shares a special bond wit\h the club’s fans. However, with the Mohun Bagan-ATK merger, it is unlikely Beitia will play for the side again.
Also Read | Right To Play: The Unsuspecting Casualty of a Pandemic
"I have not been contacted by them for the next season. But, I have no complaints about it. It was a fantastic season for me, ATK also did well and became champions. Football and life is like that. I am not sad because I did my job," Beitia said.
"I am in talks for next season but I have not decided anything yet. I think I am going to play in India next season. I will miss the Mohun Bagan supporters a lot and it will be emotional for me if and when I have to play against Bagan again in the future.”
Beitia and other Spanish players and coaches from Mohun Bagan and East Bengal, along with their family members, reached Spain after a long journey from Kolkata that started with a 30-hour bus trip to New Delhi and to board a special flight to Amsterdam.
League Two Clubs Agree to Call Off Season
League Two clubs unanimously agreed to cancel the regular season with immediate effect, but are still willing to stage the play-offs, a decision that is going to need formal consent by the English Football League and Football Association (FA).
The clubs have given an indicative point of view in a conference call on Friday and agreed that cutting back on the season is the only sensible decision.
“The feeling is, it is not fair and I think that is right and proper when you have got 10 games to go,” Stevenage owner Phil Wallace said. “We are three points behind Macclesfield with a game in hand and I would really like the opportunity to play our way out of trouble. We are revitalised and Macclesfield in difficulties.”
All 24 League Two clubs gave their view on the call, chaired by the EFL chair, Rick Parry, and it was clear that the majority was in the favour of halting the interrupted season.
League One clubs are likely to reconvene next week, with many executives seeking answers on what would happen if the season is stopped, particularly when it comes to liabilities regarding insurance policies and broadcast and sponsorship deals.
Read more sports stories from Newsclick