How the FA is helping corona virus spread through football via 54 unnecessary games

By Tony Attwood

As you may have read, a number of clubs are reporting that players are going down with the coronavirus, or have been close to people who have.  So they have to isolate.

And yet the government of the UK announced on 20 May that a “world-beating” system to test, track and trace for the virus would be up and running by 1 June.  Which was nearly 3 months ago.

Now I am particularly aware of this, because after the announcement, I volunteered to be part of the testing programme.  This means I get a kit sent to my home, I test myself, and a courier picks up the package and rushes it to a nearby testing centre.

Obviously if I have the virus I need to know quickly, because I want to ensure that I don’t infect other people.

And yet the package I handed over to the courier last Sunday, resulted in an email to me confirming I was virus free, the following Wednesday.  Which is surely too long.

Of course that didn’t matter in my case because I was negative.  Also I am trying to be cautious with my number of contacts is very small: primarily my immediate family and my dance partner.  My friends with whom I go walking to try and stay fit, are kept at a distance.

So as I say, in one sense it didn’t matter because I continue to be clear, but had I contracted the virus it would have been rather helpful to have known on Monday. A 3 day time lapse isn’t “world beating” because I could have passed the virus on by then.

Now of course this is just of concern to me, my family and friends.  But when we think about football clubs it is more worrying.  If a player with the virus plays in a practice match let alone a competitive match, with the virus, that will spread the virus.  And of course the lack of a rapid track and trace programme means that getting us fans back into the grounds is going to be even more delayed.

But now we know that at several Premier League clubs, players are having to isolate because of either testing positive or being in contact with known risks.  Chelsea seem to have a particular problem, and the word is spreading that other clubs are getting caught up in this too.

The problem is that many players are sociable creatures who have been on holiday.  Greece, Greek islands… these are not the safest of places either in terms of police activity or the virus.  Why, one wonders, did the clubs not stop the players travelling, or at the very least, have them tested on arrival back at the airport before putting them in protective clothing.

Clearly Gareth Southgate is in part to blame for allowing England to take part in this highly dangerous nonsense – along of course with the FA for signing up to and continuing with the schedule, and Uefa for not abandoning it long ago.  And between 3 and 8 September most countries have two games.

And what happens if a couple of players come back with the virus, and it is not picked up at once?  That could knock out half the squad.  What happens then – do we have to carry on playing in the league or are clubs with over four players who have gone down with the virus caught on international matches, allowed to postpone?  In short do the clubs suffer because of the Nations League nonsense?

If the FA ever had any willingness to look after players, it would have pulled out of this madness, along with other countries, and told Uefa to go and stuff itself.  But no, instead we have 54 totally unnecessary matches here.

Well over 200 players are going to be put at risk totally unnecessarily.

Thursday 3 September
A4 Germany vs Spain (20:45)
A4 Ukraine vs Switzerland (20:45)
B3 Russia vs Serbia (20:45)
B3 Turkey vs Hungary (20:45)
B4 Bulgaria vs Republic of Ireland (20:45)
B4 Finland vs Wales (20:45)
C3 Moldova vs Kosovo (20:45)
C3 Slovenia vs Greece (20:45)
D1 Faroe Islands vs Malta (20:45)
D1 Latvia vs Andorra (20:45)

Friday 4 September
A1 Italy vs Bosnia and Herzegovina (20:45)
A1 Netherlands vs Poland (20:45)
B1 Norway vs Austria (20:45)
B1 Romania vs Northern Ireland (20:45)
B2 Scotland vs Israel (20:45)
B2 Slovakia vs Czech Republic (20:45)
C4 Belarus vs Albania (20:45)
C4 Lithuania vs Kazakhstan (20:45)

Saturday 5 September
C2 North Macedonia vs Armenia (15:00)
D2 Gibraltar vs San Marino (15:00)
A2 Iceland vs England (18:00)
C1 Azerbaijan vs Luxembourg (18:00)
C1 Cyprus vs Montenegro (18:00)
C2 Estonia vs Georgia (18:00)
A2 Denmark vs Belgium (20:45)
A3 Portugal vs Croatia (20:45)
A3 Sweden vs France (20:45)

Sunday 6 September
B4 Wales vs Bulgaria (15:00)
D1 Andorra vs Faroe Islands (15:00)
B3 Hungary vs Russia (18:00)
B4 Republic of Ireland vs Finland (18:00)
C3 Slovenia vs Moldova (18:00)
A4 Spain vs Ukraine (20:45)
A4 Switzerland vs Germany (20:45)
B3 Serbia vs Turkey (20:45)
C3 Kosovo vs Greece (20:45)
D1 Malta vs Latvia (20:45)

Monday 7 September
C4 Kazakhstan vs Belarus (16:00)
A1 Bosnia and Herzegovina vs Poland (20:45)
A1 Netherlands vs Italy (20:45)
B1 Austria vs Romania (20:45)
B1 Northern Ireland vs Norway (20:45)
B2 Czech Republic vs Scotland (20:45)
B2 Israel vs Slovakia (20:45)
C4 Albania vs Lithuania (20:45)

Tuesday 8 September
C2 Armenia vs Estonia (18:00)
C2 Georgia vs North Macedonia (18:00)
A2 Belgium vs Iceland (20:45)
A2 Denmark vs England (20:45)
A3 France vs Croatia (20:45)
A3 Sweden vs Portugal (20:45)
C1 Cyprus vs Azerbaijan (20:45)
C1 Luxembourg vs Montenegro (20:45)
D2 San Marino vs Liechtenstein (20:45)


2 Replies to “How the FA is helping corona virus spread through football via 54 unnecessary games”

  1. Unnecessary matches? Not too sure about that, I would be tempted to ask how the tournament organisers would be able to launder money with the machine switched off? I am certain there are large sums of valid reasons for these matches.

  2. While I agree about those matches being unnecessary, I think more blame should be put on UEFA than on the individual countries participating (and that it should be reflected in the headline here). CL and EL qualification also started recently, of course leading to even more travel – it’s not only the national teams.

    In other news a player in Sweden caught the virus this week. When reading about it I discovered that no matches will be postponed if it spreads in any team, and official comments were along the lines “they can play with the youth team if all players get infected”.

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